The Terror of the Night

Does your child ever have night terrors??They’re different from nightmares, and quite worrisome.

When our older daughter was a toddler, she went through a period of waking up in sheer terror. My husband I would wake up when we heard her screams, rush into her room, and find her sitting up in bed, scared beyond silly and shaking as she pointed to a corner of the room.

After she calmed down she’d describe how a monster, a collection of “dots,” that was after her. She got out of bed to show us where the dots had gathered, and how they were shaped. This was before computers generated images everywhere, and I remember being both perplexed and amazed at what she could see. I felt helpless to defend her.

Each time this happened, we would assure her that a monster didn’t exist and she was safe. Then I would lay down with her until she fell asleep.

One night we woke to screams, but when we came into the room, she had already calmed herself. ?She was pointing toward the closet with an air of showing us something wonderful this time. ?There happened to be a bale of diapers, torn open, on the floor of the closet, and the white plastic wrapping glowed a bit. ?She said: “Look! ?My Night-a-Sky!” Her voice was all relief and reverence, and I can still remember the sort of lopsided grin she wore.

We weren’t sure if the Night-a-Sky was the bag of diapers, or something only she could see, but we were glad to be dismissed, our comfort services no longer required. In the morning she went to the closet and peered in. ?I was afraid she would be disappointed to see that it was the same closet as always, but she announced, “My Night-a-Sky” in a voice that was confident and smug.

That night, and for many nights after, she said Goodnight to her Night-a-Sky in the same tone she used with our big yellow cat, Max. ?It was never “the” Night-a-Sky, but only “her” Night-a-Sky. ?I honored this new guardian. ?When the bag of diapers was empty, I put a few random toys in it to anchor it, and left it where it stood.

Recently I’ve been grateful for the Night-a-Sky all over again, and glad that he’s still conjurable. Even without white plastic.

If there are 99 names for God, perhaps Night-a-Sky should be one of them.

You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day. Psalm 91.


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