My son has this habit of sneaking into our room in the middle of the night and hovering over my side of the bed. At times, I’ll wake up to find him standing there, just staring at me, eerily reminiscent of the ghost child from Ju-on. I shutter just thinking about it.
His tendency is to announce what he’s going to do, as though he feels my wife or I need a narration of his nocturnal activities. Many of my nights are pierced with conversations like this:
“Dad,” he whispers from my bedside. I startle awake.
“Yeah bud,” I ask once I get my wits about me.
“I’ve gotta go pee.”
It’s not that he needs me to help him find the bathroom. Most of the time he doesn’t ask for my help. He just wants me to know what he’s up to. By far one of his funnier middle-of-the-night commentaries was this:
“First of all, I’ve got a bloody nose. Second of all, we’re out of toilet paper.”
Even in the wee hours of the morning I found the comment funny. He’d actually taken the time to construct a two-part argument for why he needed to wake me up.
At first when I startle awake, I’m typically annoyed. I get very limited sleep on weekdays, so I resent any disturbances of the 6 or so hours I get each night. Luckily, I’ve been able to temper my responses, and hear my son out most of the time. I won’t say there isn’t an edge to my voice when I state the obvious directive, “Then go,” but at least I have the wherewithal to hear him out and see to his 2am needs.
Sometimes, I have to remember what it was like for me growing up. A true believer in ghosts, alien abduction, and other paranormal activity, I was prone to waking up in the middle of the night as a little kid. Even with two parents and three siblings in the house, there was this overwhelming sense of being alone. I thought that if something were to happen in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t be able to wake anyone up. I remember nudging my brother awake or crawling upstairs to my parents’ room, but rarely to a warm reception. I’m guessing my son wants something similar. When I ask him why he wakes me up, he doesn’t have an answer. But perhaps he just needs to know that someone else is conscious while he makes his way to the bathroom. Maybe he just needs to know that he isn’t alone in a dark house.
I hope I can continue reminding myself of my own fears growing up, so that I can be receptive to his midnight orations. I hope I don’t get too lazy or protective of my sleep that I snap or reprimand or tell him to bother his mom. It’s hard to be mindful about these things, especially when I find his rigid silhouette staring at me in the dark…..creeeeepy.