(( A true story ))
Once the books are read, we split into two groups. My wife hangs out with our two year old in the living room while I head back to the girls room with my four year old for one more book. We figure that they can never get enough books and love making the time for them since they love them so much.
Lastly, after I read one book, I tell my daughter a Swan Boat Story. I've made up these Swam Boat Stories since my oldest was a toddler. Tales of the girls on a giant boat that has a swan head front to it with friends and anthropomorphized versions of their stuffed animals - going on adventures and learning from their experiences. It's going to be a sad day when she doesn't want to hear these stories anymore.
We usually chat as she falls asleep before her sister is dropped off by her mother. We talk through the day, dreams, or whatever is stuck in her mind at the moment. I make an effort to get her to be master of her dream life, telling her that her dreams are hers and that she can make them whatever she wants. I let her know that if she can make an effort to think of happier things as she falls asleep, she might have happier dreams once she's out. I hope that she might pick up some of this through repetition.
Last night, as we were chatting, she interrupted me.
"Daddy, did you know that one night I looked down and there was this big, black shape where you're standing? I thought it was Mommy, but it wasn't."
I tried not to let my own, dark imagination run wild with that one, but the "creepy things kids say" posts came to mind at once. Keeping my "think happier thoughts" mantra in mind, I came back with, "Oh...hmph....it was probably me checking on your sister then." I rubbed her head and smiled.
She looked at me with serious eyes and said, "No, it wasn't you."
I smiled again and furrowed my brow. "Huh...that's odd."
Thankfully, my wife entered the room at that point with our youngest and I started playing some bedtime music from their Spotify, bedtime playlist. They both fell asleep quickly and I exited.
That night, what my daughter said went through my head around 1am when one of them called out from a dream. I listed for the sound of pattering feet, but they must have drifted back to sleep. A few minutes later, one of them called out again and the quiet, "No, it wasn't you" went through my head again. I got up and moved off into their room to check on them. Of course, they were both sound asleep and safe. I covered them up and tried to fall back to sleep, but couldn't for a long while.
The familiar podcast game started as I tried to get my mind derailed enough to fall back to sleep. But, between the shifting and trying to get comfortable, what my daughter said continued to rattle around in my head. Glances around the room revealed the usual, creepy dark room shadows that are present every night.
"It's the same in that dark as it is in the light." That's what we tell our daughters. I got it from a Rod Serling quote I once read. "There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on."
Most of the time I believe it completely. However, there are times....when I wonder.