Every once in a while, my 7 year old wakes me up in the middle of the night to help him get back to sleep. He has had a nightmare and is scared to lie awake in his bed.
I’m so honored when he wakes me up. Of course, I always feel honored when people tell me one of their dreams. Dreams are windows into the soul.
Dream symbolism is your unconscious mind’s native language. So every dream is a message from your world- just maybe not a part of your world you are familiar with.
“Mommy,” he whispers with big sad eyes, “I had a dream and now I’m scared.”
Together we walk back to his bed and I ask him if he wants to tell me the dream. Sometimes he chooses to and other times he doesn’t want to because it feels too scary.
Either way, after he shares or decides not to, we set about using our imagination to create a new dream story line. He knows it will not replace the bad images but we have done this enough times that he trusts in the process (and loves our time together, just like me).
I start with, so what do you want to dream? Let’s come up with the best dream possible- where do you want it to be? he always says the same place- Grandma and Papaw’s house; Ooh, yea! I agree, and who is there with you? where are y’all and what are you doing?
Sometimes everyone he knows is there, other times it’s just him, me and his Dad. We set about imagining all of us riding together on the big blue tractor. One time he decided we were having a party inside the house.
The point is to get him putting all the details he can into words, and then, once he is on a roll, I tell him, “Now, close your eyes, relax and see if you can picture all of this in your head.”
If he has trouble, I begin to repeat his details very slowly to him until his imagination can take over.
When I was a little girl, I remember my mom comforting me through some of my own nightmares. I remember she would rub my back with just the right amount of pressure and the right figure 8 pattern that would lull me back into sleep. But, I also remember the fear that would rise up in me the second her fingers changed pace. “She’s leaving.” I thought, “She thinks I’m asleep already.” But I wasn’t asleep and I was afraid she would leave and my fear would return.
Because I have those memories, I have made an effort to be very clear with my son about when I am going to leave. I usually will tell him, as he begins to play the new dream in his mind, “I am not going anywhere, I’m just still and quiet so you can work on the dream. I will tell you when I am going back to bed.”
This is such an important part of our routine. He trusts that I will not leave him until he feels strong enough to be in the room alone.
And finally, once he is silent for long enough that I can sense he has relaxed, I will softly let him know, “Ok, I am going back to my bed. Come get me if you need me.”
“Ok. Night, Mom,” he says. And I know he is good until morning.
This ritual of ours is one of my most cherished practices.
Do you have practices of your own that you relish in? I’d love to hear about them.
Sweet readers, please follow like comment and share if this post resonates with you. Thanks ~Sweet Georgia Pam