I found this last night while searching for more things to post. It will need editing eventually, but for now I think it is good enough to share. I originally had the intention that it would be the opening page to my dream notebook.
[original draft: 6/25/2012]
When my son was younger, he was quite afraid of the dark. Night after night as I would tuck him in, he would have the same request, “Dad, can you leave the light on for me?” Having felt the dread of the unknown myself, I had simpathy for his tiny plight. Night after night I left the light on. Until one night. I had seen a film about the astonishing disapearance of our glaciers. Armed with a justification for the greater good of my son, I was prepared to start the battle to get him sleeping with the light off.
The first night, I was on a crusade. When he asked as innocintly as he did every night, “Dad, will you maybe leave the light on tonight?” I tried to be firm. I trued to take comfort in knowing that while he was fighting monsters, I was fighting global worming. As it turns out, his battle was much more tretcherous. When I told him, “I am sorry, tonight we need to have the light off” he bravely pulled them covers up over his nose and nodded. I could feel the dread that was welling up in the eyes that stared back at me. Shutting the light off could not erase that look from my mind. I got no sleep that night.
The next night, overwhelmed with either compassion or tiredness, I decieded a different approach. When my son asked, “Dad, do we need to have the light off again?” I said, “No, we can leave the light on tonight.” All tucked in and safe, I left him for a bit. An hour later when I could no longer hear him tossing the blankets around, I quietly snuck in and shut the light off. This worked for a while until I began to get tired of the game. Then one night when he work up to a dark room, I think the confusion terrified him. He called down the hall to me, “Dad? Are you there?” I walked in, eyes adjusted to the darkness and sat down next to his bed. I asked him what had him so shaken up. He replied, as I suspected, that he was afraid of the dark. There were things that might be waiting to get him. Things that he couldn’t see. Oh the things with sharp teeth that hide so well in the darkness. I told him that I understood his concern but those things don’t like dads. I don’t know how I wove the story together but he was comforted to have me by the side of his bed. As he fell asleep, I fell asleep on the floor beside his bed. During the night, when he would stir, I would reach my hand up and place it on his. I told him that I was still here and that I was still keeping them away.
The next night when I went to tuck him into bed, my son surpried me. He asked, “Dad, why aren’t you afarid of them?” I didn’t quite know how to respond. It is somewhat silly of a question since they clearly don’t exist and I know that I am safe. Yet, he had a good point, even as an adult, the fear of the unknown is quite a overwhelming. As I thought about the problem in more detail I began to understand the nature of the problem. I told him that I was able to keep them away even while I was asleep. Being that this is an attractive skill to a young child, he naturally inquired about how one might learn this skill.
“It is very simple, but it requires a lot of practice. When you close your eyes, what do you see?”
“I see them.”
“and what do they look like?” A question that seemed to almost frighten him more
“They have glowing eyes and big claws…”
“Ah, well there is your problem, they know you see them. If they don’t know you see them, then they won’t both with you. You are no good to them if you don’t pay any attention to them. It is as simple as that. See, when I close my eyes, I don’t see them at all. In fact, I can hardly even see them anymore because of all the other things I see… they are so wonderful.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
“Well…” I thought for a moment. “Last night, when I closed my eyes I saw the most fantastic thing. Possibly the most fantastic thing I have seen yet. I was sitting in your school’s cafeteria…”
“why were you there?”
“I don’t know. But it was wonderful. Everyone was happy and everyone was enjoying their food. Then all of a sudden I saw a man stand up severl tabled away from me. He picked up his hamburger and flung it directly at my head. As burger was flying toward me I put my hand up and stopped it in mid air. As it hoevered there, everyone marveled at it. I myself didn’t even belive it for a minute. Then I realized what I was able to do. I told everyone else to start a massive food fight. In one instant food was airborn all over the room. As each piece of food began to take flight, I stopped them before they reached their destination.”
“Yes, it was marvalous. I wish you had been there because after that I picked everyone in the room up out of their seats and we becan flying around. You would have loved it.”
And with a great big grin on his face, he told me that he wanted to be able to do that to, but that I should probably keep the light on tonight. I agreed.
The next night he was so excited to tell me what he had seen.
“Dad, you wouldn’t belive it, I was flying last night! I don’t know why, but but when I had the little lego man from my lego set, I was able to fly all around. I flew over our house, I flew over the water, I even flew over the school. But then when I got over the school playground I dropped my lego man and couldn’t stay in the air anymore. I was desparate to find where I dropped him so that I could get back into the air. You wouldn’t believe how many things there are to see when you can fly.”
That night he asked me to shut the light off for him if I kept telling him what I see when I close my eyes. Night after night we have traded stories more wonderful than one could imagine.