Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Grumbles

My oldest son has had trouble falling asleep much of his life. Even as a baby he would babble and practice new words he had learned in his crib. He would say the same word over and over using different inflections until he mastered it from every angle. His vivid imagination still keeps him awake for hours as he sings songs, tells stories and asks then answers his own questions. I asked him about it a few months ago. "How come it takes you awhile to fall asleep, bud? Just busy thinking?"
"Nah," he said, "I just don't want the grumbles to come and get me."

The grumbles? We had never used that word and had never even read a book talking about a creature called a grumble. When I asked him to tell me about the grumbles, he shared that they try to pull him into the dark and suck him into a hole. "That's why I like so many lights on," he explained. I realized that he was describing the sensation of falling asleep. I, too, feel that feeling of falling into a dark hole. As an overtired mother, I welcome that darkness and rest. But my little boy feared it and I needed to figure something out.

I told him that grumbles are afraid of brave little boys. I told him that he could handle them - I knew he was strong enough. "But how? How could I fight them?" he asked with wide eyes. "They are scared of clapping. Just clap three times and they will go away," I told him.

I thought this was genius until I realized that clapping scared grumbles but it also woke up little brothers and kept big brothers from falling asleep even more. I was telling my friend Maddie about the grumbles and she told me about something her son does with his children each night. He licks his lips then kisses their forehead and calls it the kiss of protection. He tells them that it will stay with them through the night and protect them no matter what. They can feel the kiss even after he leaves and feel safer because of it. She also shared this comforting Bible verse with me:

When you lie down, you won't be afraid. When you lie down, you will sleep soundly.
Proverbs 3:24

That night, I gave him the kiss of protection and shared the verse with him. I told him that God is always watching over him and that He will give him peace. I left feeling hopeful. Three minutes later he ran out of his room and said, "Mommy!! The kiss ran out! What do I do?!" I gave him another and assured him that it stays there all night, even if he can't feel it any more. I also reminded him that God is watching over him all the time.

It has been a week and slowly but surely he is falling asleep with less angst. He still has a lot to think about, but he is not so worried. He seems less fearful. The best part? He gives me a kiss on my forehead every night to make sure that I am protected, too. And you know what? It helps.

How do you help assuage your children's fears? What rituals help them to feel protected?

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