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    Sleeping with the light on

    “Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.”

    Dorothy Thompson


    Recently, Pip has started asking for her light to be kept on when she goes to bed at night.  She thought the things in her room looked scary in the dark.  The night-light wasn’t illuminating enough, nor was the fun ladybug-light that shines coloured stars all over her room.  So, we accommodate her, hoping it’s just a stage.

    I find it interesting that she slept in the dark for the first three years of her life and was completely content.  Could it be that, as she learns more about the world, her fears increase?

    We purposely don’t have the news on in our home when the girls are awake, so our daughters know nothing about the earthquake in Haiti.  The other day at Pip’s pre-school, her teacher asked for parental permission to involve the children in a discussion about the situation in Haiti so that they could each bring in a Twoonie and contribute to a school-district-wide fundraiser.  I was glad to be asked, because I didn’t want Pip introduced to the idea of devastating natural disasters at this stage in her life.  Some kids might listen to words like ‘homeless’ and not internalize it, but my highly-sensitive child internalizes EVERYTHING.  At this stage, I don’t want to add ‘earthquakes’ to her list of fears.

    So, I requested that the fund-raising discussion  involve something like, ‘children who need our help,’ and leave it at that.  Pip knows from our trip to donate toys in December that there are children who aren’t as fortunate as she is.

    When I decided to write about this topic, I realized that I hadn’t had an in-depth discussion with Pip about sleeping with the light on.  We were having a little snuggle on her bed one afternoon and I said, “Pip, can you tell me about something?” as an introduction to my ‘fears’ chat.  Pip said,

    “Sure Mama, I can tell you what I dreamed.”

    “Okay,” I had a slightly different agenda, but I was curious.

    “I had a dream that you and Daddy and Fig and I were all COW-GIRLS!!!  Well, there was one COW-GIRL-BOY.  That’s Dad.  And we all had horses and we would ride them and ride them.  But Fig isn’t really big enough to ride a horse yet, so we have to wait until Fig and I are mommies too.  Like you.  We’ll wait until we’re pregnant.  Then we’ll be cow-girls.”

    I was laughing at this point, but Pip just carried on with her dreams of pregnant cow-girls and cow-girl-boys.  I suppose she’s used to me laughing a lot when she’s talking because it certainly doesn’t deter her.  Eventually we got around to talking about sleeping in the dark and she said that she was afraid of the shadows.  She couldn’t name exactly what she thought the shadows would do to her, or why she was afraid of them, but she was clearly uncomfortable discussing the possibility of sleeping in a darkened room.

    “Let’s play camp-out Mama,” she said.  Believe it or not, one of Pip’s favourite games is to close the blinds and curtains in her room, take out the ladybug lamp that lights up the ceiling with stars, snuggle under a blanket with me or Fig or Daddy-O, turn off all the lights, and pretend we’re camping outside under a starry sky.   There, with the comfort of a warm body beside her, she isn’t aware of the scary shadows, she’s just in awe of the starry ceiling.

    1 comment to Sleeping with the light on

    • Amanda

      We don’t watch the news either, but Emma overheard the CBC radio in the car talking about our regions vulnerability and immediately asked me to make an emergency plan. Her preschool has obviously discussed the Haiti situation in more depth, because in addition to needing bandaids and water, she requested we keep tools on hand to build a new house.

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