If anyone was ever witness to the conversations that take place between me and my youngest son at bedtime they would think we had consumed copious amounts of magic mushrooms for our dinner.
They go from the bizarre to the ridiculous but actually all of it is meaningful nonsense. This is part of our nightly routine and it’s generally at the back of my mind throughout the day. Basically together we create a dream for the child so that he goes to sleep with funny ideas swirling around in his little head and all negativity and fear and worries cleared from his mind. Then he sleeps like a baby.
It may seem like an odd thing to do but trust me it has been a howling success.
This all began when he was little and used to absorb a ridiculous amount of information during the day that he struggled to make sense of when he slowed down at night. As we go about our daily routine we are listening to the radio, the television may be on, people are chatting about various news items and we forget that little ears are picking up more than they can really understand. We are able to listen to a news story, shake our head, tut tut where appropriate and promptly wonder about what to make for dinner.
Children are different. They hear things that they don’t really understand and sometimes things they are unable to process.
In my case, the little mind of my son used to be racing with images and ideas and doom and gloom stories that he might have heard throughout the day. In the dark of night he would project these images and they would naturally grow legs and become monstrous and scary. So I started inventing new and different ways to keep his brain from going down that road.
Now it has become a habit for us, a time of day that we both look forward to, an escape for both of us.
He’s all cuddled up under his duvet, his little eyes bright with anticipation and I sit beside him. As he closes his eyes his mind drifts off to whatever ridiculous super hero story we have created that night. I don’t wait with him until he’s asleep, I have never done that. I’ve always believed that they need to be able to fall asleep on their own and they always have. I just plant the idea and he takes it from there. The beauty of this is that there have been very few incidents of nightmares and night terrors and thus many blessed nights of uninterrupted sleep for me.
These dreams can take any shape whatsoever. One of his favourites is arriving to school in a tank. I try not to think about what this might mean in terms of his attitude towards the building and the people within. Anyway we have also created images of him sliding down rainbows, parachuting from planes, having elaborate birthday parties, disappearing through a sinkhole in the schoolyard and finding himself in Australia. He has chased sausages down the street on a runaway plate and even skipped from tree to tree with monkeys in deepest darkest jungles.
Odd I know, but the odder the better.
There have been endless ones. Some quite funny and some which afford him super powers the like of which no one has ever seen before. Naturally enough, he is always the hero in these scenarios. He goes to sleep with a smile feeling safe and secure and confident that he can take on anything. That’s all any parent can hope for really. Well, that and a good night’s sleep. Some day when he’s older we are going to sit down and collate all these dreams and become billionaires but until then we are working on a way of turning the pillow into a dream collector. Then when he wakes up we could plug it into the laptop and watch them over again. How fabulous would that be? Why get a dream catcher when you can be a dream maker? That’s so much better.