I still remember the first time my brother had a nightmare. I was up late, babysitting, because my mother was out. I think he must have been three or four. I had put all three of my brothers to bed, and snuggled on the couch with a book. He came out of a dream, screaming about “owl heads with wings” chasing him.
He was inconsolable. I didn’t know what to do. I held him and tried to quiet him, but no dice. So in desperation I invented “kiss to keep the monsters away.” A kiss that was magical and only worked if you stayed in bed and went to sleep. To my astonishment, it worked. He fell asleep and every night from then on he would ask “kiss to keep the monsters away, please?” (a special kiss, it has to be a solemn, ceremonial kiss right in the middle of the forehead) every night when I tucked him in. My youngest brother soon joined in and that became a special thing as they grew up. They continued to ask right up until they each hit those dreaded pre-teen years.
When Hannah was a toddler, she started to have nightmares of an orange and green dinosaur that was trying to eat her. The magic monster repelling kiss worked for her as well, but I also bought her a little wand, and she would take it to bed with her to zap any errant monsters.
I don’t remember Patrick or Willow having any significant nightmare issues when they were younger. Patrick would occasionally get night terrors, which are an entirely different (and more awful) kettle of fish. Of course, they are old enough now that they can crawl into bed with me whenever they are feeling afraid. Last night I ended up with Patrick and Willow in my bed after they woke from bad dreams. It must have been something in the air, because I had one too. I don’t remember much about it, but it had something to do with my first boyfriend dressed as an uber-scary clown, trying to get me to go out with him again.
And now Cooper has started having nightmares. I’m sure it has something to do with the move and the new bedroom. He keeps telling me about “the monsters outside, in the big dark” that want to bite his fingers. The poor little guy is afraid of the dark, the closet, sharks in his bed, and now finger-biting monsters.
When did your littles start teliing you about their fears/dreams?