Just in time for Halloween, poor Claire has suddenly developed an intense fear of, well, anything she can’t see, especially ghosts and the “Candy Man”. Claire is scared enough that she literally will not be left alone anywhere in the house. If she is upstairs with me, and I need to go downstairs for something, she comes with me, for fear of ghosts. She feels especially scared in our bathroom, with all of its mirrors. Supposedly the Candy Man lives behind mirrors. If you say his name three times (or is it five?), he will come out of the mirror and kill you. This is a real fear — on some level, she thinks it might actually happen, which is terrifying, if you think about it.
In particular, Claire has had trouble getting to sleep. When we tuck her in, she grasps onto us for protection, and although she tries to fight through the fear, she has ended up in tears and begs to stay in our room. She keeps coming out of her room all shaken up. We have talked with Claire about these fears and how they don’t really make sense, and Claire agrees, but it doesn’t make her fear go away. We joked about ghosts, too. Suppose they were real, which they aren’t. Would a ghost really be scary? They can’t do anything. They just float around like a cloud. We people are the big, scary ones with our big, muscular bodies. Also, Molly would scare a ghost because she is so loud and would easily scream them away, if they existed, which they don’t. Claire wondered if Muffin would protect her, and we said yes, if ghosts were real, Muffin would be scary since she has such big, sharp teeth and can bark. We showed Claire Muffin’s teeth, and she was impressed how scary our teddy bear of a dog can be. After all this discussion, Claire headed to bed feeling good and safe. Ten minutes later, she was up crying and desperate for the safety of our company. She also wakes up in the middle of the nights looking for protection and is very hard to get back to sleep. This is how the fear works.
Claire has apparently been spooked by her classmates, who are spreading rumors of ghosts and ghouls. The stories are probably in good nature, but they really spook Claire. After discussing it with Kit and me, Claire said she understood that ghosts are not real, and she even told one of her classmates she knew her stories were not real, but she would play along for fun. Still, Claire is just spooked. Fear is fear, and it doesn’t always make sense.
After several tricky nights of getting Claire to sleep in her room, we came up with a couple of ways to take the edge off of Claire’s feeling of terror. One night about two hours after putting Claire to bed, she was still awake and scared. She asked for a drawing pad to get her mind off of things. Sure enough, after about 45 minutes of drawing flowers and peace signs, she was asleep, pencil in hand. It did not work quite as quickly the next night. Finally, last night, we decided to let Claire use the secret weapon of falling asleep, at least for Kit and me: audio books. Nothing works quite like audio books to lull you to sleep. We set up an old iPod Nano with Ramona the Brave, narrated by Stockard Channing. In the story, Ramona, like Claire, also struggles with the fear of unknown scary things in her room at night, among other things. Claire and I have listened this audio book in the car many times, mostly on the way to pick up Molly from school. It did the trick tonight. Claire was asleep within minutes. She did wake up once in the middle of the night, though. But she was not scared. She just wanted to know how to adjust the volume on the story.
And this is how Claire got her very first iPod.