Monday, January 05, 2009

Parenting question #96740576938

How do you tell when it is a real fear and when you are being played?

Sam has never been a fan of the dark. For a while, he wouldn't even walk into a room that didn't already have a light on in order to turn one on. No light...no Sam. It was very frustrating and I'm embarrassed to say it happened during a time when we had little patience and we did not handle it very well. But now, at least, he will walk to the doorway of a room and reach an arm in to turn on a light. Honestly, I still do this myself some nights, preferring not to be surprised by a mouse scurrying across the floor of our old farmhouse...so I can't criticize too much. Yes, a mouse is different than the boogeyman, but I'm not going to argue details when the result is the same.

So that leaves us with our latest fun little twist in this game we call parenting. He is FINALLY not sleeping in our bedroom. He is temporarily sharing a room with his brother (he has his own room but "doesn't want Myles to be alone"...yeah...I KNOW). I suspect he would rather stay in our bedroom with us. But he's six and it's time (now that I've had a little taste of blissful slumber without a six-year-old elbow in my ear, I'm quite fond of the idea of having him in his own room).

So here's the problem. Last night, he cried and said, "I'm afraid of the dark." Now, I gauged it based on the fact that he was not sobbing crying...just your garden variety crying. And there are two nightlights in the room...so it's not exactly DARK dark. But I don't know. A fear of the dark can be very scary. And I don't want him to end up in therapy as an adult, blaming me for ignoring his childhood fears. But there is part of me that thinks he's old enough and smart enough to play me in order to avoid doing something he just doesn't want to do.

I.Just.Don't.Know!

Help?

8 comments:

Jillian said...

My kids play me All.The.Time. I would say my willingness to be safe than sorry is the biggest hangover from the deadbaby years in terms of my everyday behaviour. The 'what ifs?' I never had before dictate my behaviour. Before, 99% odds that everything will be fine were enough for me to tell them to harden up and carry on with what they are supposed to be doing. After, well you know, 1% happens.

So yeah, if you figure this one out, let the world know ;)

Oh - and my kids will definitely be in therapy at some stage blaming me for it all. You (and your boys) are not alone lol :)

DD said...

We have a slide dimmer attached to our son's lamp. We use to leave it on, but now he's OK when we go in later after he's asleep to shut it off.

Lissa said...

My kids (5 and 3) do the same, to try and stay up just a few minutes more. I asked them what was really scaring them, they told me monsters in the closet - i got my monster spray (febreeze with the label taken off), and told them they each needed to spray in the closet x amount of times (i usually ask them to pick a number between 1 - 5 so it varies each time). Works every time =] Good Luck =]

niobe said...

As a child, I was terrified of the dark, the boogeyman, the monsters under the bed, the wind in the trees, the creaking down the hall, you name it. I rarely slept through the night without waking up in terror until I went away to college.

Which is a long way of saying that, while I don't have any advice (and, who knows, maybe he is playing you), that for some kids, these kind of irrational fears are incredibly powerful and last far longer than you would think.

Shinny said...

Alex used to do that same thing once he moved to his own room. I would say leave a lamp on until he is asleep but you probably can't with Myles being in there. That is how I handle that one. But I can't really complain since I still have to sleep with a night light. ;)

Sherry said...

We got dd a 20 gallon fish tank and have the light on a timer - for the fish as they need a certain amount of light a day. It actually works out great! The light is enough to keep her room a little lit, and the little noise from it is very calming :)

They've been very easy to care for also!

Aurelia said...

try DD's idea! See what happens?

kate said...

Chloe does this all the time, still, and she has been in her own room for 2 years now. Yes, she is playing us and yes, she is honestly scared too. Her night light is on & the bathroom light is on & her closet door is open (she is scared if it is closed???) and her room door is open & i am right across the hall & still when she doesn't want to go go to bed she yells 'Mommy! I am SCARED!' She really wants someone to sit with her until she falls asleep but i am not willing to do that, also because my being there actually prevents her from falling asleep. Last night it was 'Mommy mommy! I have one more thing to SAY' as i was leaving. 'Ok, what do you have to say?' i asked. 'Ummm.....ummmm.....ummm...'it took her a minute to think of something 'i NEED you to move my piggy bank to the OTHER side of the furniture' Gee, are we reaching?

When she really won't be quiet, Dh goes in & threatens her & she shuts up. Yes, therapy is in her future, but that is a foregone conclusion with *this* family.

I actually really like Sherry's fish tank idea, i have to look into that.