Keep your creepy nightmares in your own wing of the castle

I was sleeping so good at 5 o’clock this morning. The thing about sleeping so good is you only know you were sleeping so good after something wakes you up. Sleeping so good is the perfect example of something you didn’t realize you had until it’s gone.

The thing that made me realize I had, up until then, been sleeping so good was a hand that shook me awake. “Daddy, I had a nightmare,” the seven-year-old owner of that damned hand said to me.

“Go back to bed,” I replied. This is my standard response to all young people at 5 a.m.

“I can’t. It was too creepy.”

“Oh, in that case, go back to bed.”

“I can’t. I’ll have it again. I need to sleep with you.” He tried to strong-arm his way onto my bed. Mommy leaves me about a quarter of the bed as my portion, so there’s no room at the inn. Mommy’s not giving up any of her three-quarters; the boy knows this and it is why he came to my side.

I don’t even ask him to relate his bad dreams anymore. There’s no point. They are about as scary as an episode of Peppa Pig. You want to know about a really scary nightmare? I’ll tell you a scary nightmare.

Not this night, because I was sleeping so good, but last night, I dreamt we had to leave our house and move into a single bedroom apartment in California. After all the time I spend fantasizing about living in a castle where the parents have their own wing, imagine my terror at having to share a tiny apartment with these kids. Now that’s a nightmare. And did I go running into his room to tell him about it? Hell no. In a perfect world, his wing of the castle would be too far for me to travel before daylight.

The boys' room

The view of the kids’ wing from my bedroom. (It’s the farthest away part.)

I resisted his efforts to usurp my allotment of sleeping area. “Go back to bed!” I said in the voice of someone who now fully realized just how good he had been sleeping.

“You have to come with me.”

Well, this was a victory of sorts. I got up and walked him back to his room. I tucked him into bed and was back in my room in less than a minute. I guess there’s a hidden benefit in not having my own wing.

I still had some time before work to get more sleep. And that is exactly what I would have done, had not I been reminded of the nightmare of living in a single bedroom apartment in California.  I thought I had put that horror behind me.

By now, my son was surely comfy in his bed, nightmare free, sleeping so good. Anyhow, it would be time to wake him up for school soon, and then we’d let him know just how good he had been sleeping.



Kids are STILL creepy: a horror story sequel

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a post about how my son would stand beside my bed and wake me up with his heavy breathing whenever he needed something in the middle of the night. It was pretty unnerving. Since then, he has changed his methods a couple of times, leading me to the conclusion that there is no good way for him to wake me up in the middle of the night.

kid peeking through door crack

Some people are tormented by the Spawn of Satan. We couldn’t afford that name-brand spawn, so my wife and I concocted a do-it-yourself version of spawn to haunt our midnights.

For a while, the boy gave up coming into the room at all when he wanted to wake me. We leave our door ajar at night. He would stand in the hall and put his mouth up to the crack and urgently whisper, “Daddy!” as many times as necessary to rouse me. This resulted in a higher than normal rate of bad dreams for me.

Even when his call did not penetrate my dream world, it woke me with disturbing thoughts. You’d be surprised how similar a child’s loud whisper of “Daddy!” sounds to the gravelly bellow of a demon-possessed house commanding you to “Get out!” when you are half asleep.

He must have trained me to become a heavier sleeper. You can only lie on pins and needles for so long, waiting for an unearthly voice either to ask for a drink of water or demand that you offer your soul to Satan. Eventually, you learn to sleep through it.

Consequently, the boy doesn’t stop at the door anymore. He’s back to standing beside the bed. Only now, he is more direct about waking me up.

My wife sleeps on a particular side of our bed. That is the only side of me that somebody should be on. When a finger taps me from the other direction at 3 a.m., it can lead to some instant wakefulness.

When this exact event occurred, the other night, I did a remarkably athletic 180 degree flip beneath the covers. Thankfully, I recognized the silhouette of my pint-sized tormentor in the darkness. “What the hell are you doing here?” I bellowed. The curse must be blamed upon my semi-conscious condition. The fact that I was able to refrain from dropping an F-bomb must be credited to my superior parenting instincts.

My wife was bolted awake by my jujitsu move. “You scared the hell out me!” she shouted at one or both of us. She was also semi-conscious, and is a superior parent.

“I want you to make my bad dream go away,” the boy explained.

“Well, you shouldn’t have it anymore, because you just passed it on to me.” I didn’t say this; my wife didn’t say this; we were both thinking it.

We let him lie down with us until he fell asleep. Then we put him in his own bed. He reported no more bad dreams. I guess that means everything worked out okay, except that now I have to sleep always facing toward the outside of the bed.