Heid: Transitions and dreams

We’ve had a lot of transition in our house the past year or so. We’ve changed states, changed houses (twice), cars, daycares (twice), and oh by the way we had another baby.

And mostly, things have gone smoothly. We’ve had our battles, but we’ve done pretty well.

By Jess Heid john's mom works

By Jess Heid
john’s mom works

The pulled seams show in strange places, though. Several nights ago, a late-night thunderstorm kept John awake in our new house. His bedroom is way upstairs from our room, and knows not to leave his bed once he’s gone to sleep. So when he woke up, afraid, he lay scared in his bed, not sleeping.

I know this because the next day when I picked him up from school, I said, “Hey kiddo, get in the car quick because it looks like a storm could be coming.”

He broke into tears, sobbing almost hysterically as I strapped him into his seat.

I got him situated, climbed into my own seat, talking to him all the while to decipher what was wrong.

“OK, my love,” I said, “Take one deep breath, and then tell Mommy why you’re so upset.”

“Because I’m afraid of the storm!” he emphatically replied.

He’d never been afraid of storms before, so I suspected this was related to change.

“Storms won’t hurt you, baby – as long as you’re with Mommy or Daddy we’ll keep you safe and sound.”

“But Mommy, what about when I was outside all alone in the storm and I had to come inside and sleep on the couch?” he asked.

I had a moment of panic. Had he somehow crept down the stairs and out the door last night while we slept?

“Did you go outside last night, John?” I asked, trying to keep my cool.

“No, mommy,” he said hesitantly.

“You’re not in trouble, John, I just need to know.”

“No, Mommy,” he said, sounding very confused.

I had an inspiration. “John, did you dream you were out in the storm and had to sleep on the couch?”

He started crying again. “Yes, mommy, I was so scared and I was all alone and when I came inside Mommy and Daddy were gone and I couldn’t find anything and I had to go to sleep on the couch.”

Ahhh, the vivid dreams of an imaginative, disrupted 4-year-old.

“Baby,” I said calmly and sweetly, “Oh, my John, it was only a dream. You can always come down to Mommy and Daddy’s room if you’re scared in the night, ok? You’re safe and sound in your house, but you can come see Mommy and Daddy if you need us.”

He was silent for a moment. He stopped crying. He perked up. And he said, “Can I sleep with you?”

Fears allayed.

*  *  *

Last night, it was my turn for a terrible dream. I suppose I am not immune to the transitions, and having had a discussion with John before bed about tricky people and how if he is ever lost in a store, there are certain safe people he can ask for help, I dreamed that someone took John and did something to him – not anything specific, though it was medical in nature – that left him virtually catatonic apart from begging for help. It was awful. I woke up short of breath, tears in my eyes, and prayers on my lips to protect my family.

When it was time to wake John up, I scooped him up in my arms and whispered quietly, “I need a hug, my love, your Mommy needs a little love. I had a bad dream.”

“What did you dream, Mommy?” he asked sleepily.

I debated how to tell him. “I dreamed a tricky person took you and hurt you, John. I am so glad it was just a bad dream.”

He hugged me tight, scooting into my lap. “It’s ok, Mommy,” he told me. “As long as me and Daddy and Charlie and Buddy are here with you, you’re safe and sound.”

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