Two nights ago I had a series of firsts. Evan told me what his nightmare was about. Not only was he able to tell me; he didn’t cry, which was another first He also forced me to search his bed for spiders, and yet this is another first. I assumed it would be easy to prove there were no spiders because this wasn’t a monster in the closet or under the bed that could just disappear with the flick of a light switch, promising to be back as soon as it was dark and no parents were around. No, these were spiders. Frightening in their own way, but they would still be there, light or no.
When I was a kid, I had two similar nightmares, where I went to my mom and woke her up to ask her to search my bed. The first night I dreamt that a huge snake was curled up next to me and that I watched it slither down the space between my bed and wall. My mom turned on the light, moved the bed, and showed me there were no snakes at all. The next night I dreamt that I was covered with ants. Again my mom came to my room, turned on my light, and diligently looked for any sign of ants. She’s a great mom. The reason she humored me was she remembered listening to a radio personality who told a story of his son having the same nightmare of ants as I did, only the radio guy didn’t check assuming it was a dream. It turned out the bed was crawling with ants. Because I grew up in Arizona, it was quite possible that a snake could have got in somehow (ask my brother). Since I was older than Evan, when I saw the evidence that there were no snakes or ants, I went back to sleep.
Not so for my little guy. He’s three, and he swears there are spiders in his bed. The first time he told me, I got up and smoothed his sheets, showing him spider-free sheets. I explained that there were no spiders in his bed, it was a dream. The next time I turned on the lights and showed him that underneath and on top of the sheet that there were no spiders. Did I mention it was now 3:30 in the morning? The third time, ten minutes after I left his room, I shook out the comforter, and the forth time we looked under the bed. The fifth time I again showed him the empty sheets. Each time I calmly explained that there were no spiders and that it was all a dream. It was all in his head. Finally the sixth time, now just after 4, I asked if he would rather sleep on the floor. He preferred my bed. The thought of telling him there was a spider in our bed occurred to me, but I just wasn’t ready to have a mental crack. So I said no and tried to usher him back to bed. He decided that he would prefer to sleep on the floor, so I laid his comforter down with his pillow. He snuggled up, and I covered him with the remaining half of the comforter. He came back ten minutes later, and I told him go back to bed before I feed you to the spiders.
The next morning Evan conducted his own search of spiders, and he found there were none. But he’s terrified they will be back. And I wonder how I can convince him.
When I was a freshman in high school, I realized our house had an unusual amount of spiders. Probably because our old house had very few, and this new house was closer to a desert area than the old house, landlocked by several miles of neighborhoods. One night I was just about to fall asleep, I heard a rustling under my bed. I’ll admit at this moment I clutched my teddy bear and thought how I KNEW there were monsters under my bed. I absolutely KNEW it! Damn, why did I ever believe grown ups? Now I was going to die (yes, I clearly had an over-active imagination; still do). I peaked out one eye to watch something scurry out from under the bed. In the pale light and my sleepy eyes, this was worse than any boogie man. This was a scorpion. I launched myself out of the bed and dashed to my parents’ room, where I breathlessly told my mom what was in the middle of the floor. Because my dad was out on a call and my mom is a brave woman, she grabbed a tennis shoe and walked back to my room, flicking on the overhead light. To reveal . . . a wolf spider. Nothing dangerous, just scary. My mom killed it any ways, and I asked to sleep in my mom’s bed. She rolled her eyes and told me to go back to bed because it was a school night. Thanks. So then I made a promise to myself to always keep my papers under my bed to warn me (granted I picked this up years before to keep the monster from getting me). I also decided I needed something else.
Harry, my new pet plastic spider. He sat just inside my doorway, keeping vigil over my room, so that I could sleep. I loved Harry. Not only was I convinced he kept away spiders, he would scare people who would rush into my room and see a spider out of the corner of their eye. I moved him around every once in a while just to keep my family on guard. I had faith Harry would keep the spiders at bay, so now I wonder if that will work for Evan.
Today we are in the midst of making our own spiders. I have several different activities that make spiders, and I am finding more. I’ve recorded several “Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends” because Evan last night would not go to sleep in his bed. My husband found Evan, sitting on his pillow, staring at the foot of his bed. Evan begged his dad to allow him to “camp out.” My husband didn’t understand what this meant because he had slept through the nightmares the previous night. I explained and gave my consent. But can I allow my son to keep sleeping on the floor? So any advice on nightmares out there?