It's amazing how literally children sometimes take what they hear.
Lately, our daughter, Amelia, has been somewhat restless at night and we'd be trying to determine why. This comes after quite an extended period of her being able to pretty much sleep through the night.
Oh, there's been the occasional need for a potty trip, although she's started doing it on her own without waking Kim and me, which I thought was pretty good for a 3-year-old. Out of habit, one of us usually will wake up, listen to make sure she doesn't need any help, then go back to sleep after Amelia gets back in her bed.
But in the last few nights Amelia has slipped back into her old ways, calling for Mama or Daddy, sometimes whimpering or grunting without saying anything until one of us goes to see what's the matter. Often she's still asleep and it just takes a little pat on the back to soothe her.
Of course, that may be three or four or more times a night.
We'd been attributing it to the holidays and the disruption they'd wrought on everybody's sleep cycle. Amelia had gotten to bed a little later than usual while Eli was out of school for Christmas break and we've been trying to get her back into her routine. Naturally, Amelia's resisted, insisting she's not tired even though within five minutes of settling in she's fast asleep.
For a while.
She awakened us several times the other night, rousting Kim most of the time, then me. She wouldn't give any clue about what might be wrong, and actually was still asleep. I finally just closed her door and went back to sleep.
Then, this morning, after another restless night, Amelia gave us a bit of insight.
She was up earlier than usual, and so were we. Mama got the shower first so Amelia and I got a chance to talk. I asked her if something was bothering her or if she was having any problems during the day.
No, replied Amelia.
Had her tummy been upset?
No, she answered.
Had anyone been bothering her?
Nope, she said.
Then she got a serious look on her face.
"There's a mosquito."
"There's a mosquito in my room at night that bothers me."
OK. It's January, early winter, and Amelia says there's a mosquito disturbing her. Well, it really hasn't seemed like winter this week. Who knows.
"There's a fly in my room."
"A fly. It bothers me at night."
Amelia can't stand flies. She delights in getting the fly swatter after them. But a fly in January? In the house?
Neither Kim nor Eli nor I had seen either a fly or a mosquito anywhere, but Amelia insisted both were in her room at night and that's why she couldn't sleep well.
Now we were getting somewhere. I wasn't sure where, but we were getting there. That's when Amelia put the capper on it.
"And a flu bug, too."
A flu bug? And a fly? And a mosquito?
Amelia explained that she was afraid the flu bug was going to bite her. She didn't want it to bite her.
That's understandable. Kim got hit with it last weekend, and we've had several friends down with the flu lately. It's not a pretty sight.
And it's been all over television about the current flu epidemic with lots of references to the "flu bug." Even medical professionals interviewed on various news shows have talked about the "flu bug" and how it's making people sick and how so many people are getting "bitten" by the "flu bug."
There are commercials with little animated "flu bugs" and spots for different medicines to take "when the flu bug bites."
It's no reason to wonder that a 3-year-old would be worried about getting bitten by the flu bug at night. Especially when she says there's a fly and a mosquito in her room, too. They're real insects, so to a child the "flu bug" must be a real bug, too.
I asked Amelia what we could do about the fly and the mosquito and the flu bug in her room. Without hesitation, she had the answer.
A fly swatter. A pink fly swatter. Or maybe a green one.
She said we could put a fly swatter on the rug by her bed and she could use it to swat the bugs. Then she decided we could hang it from her closet door, and she could still swat the flu bug with it. But she wanted her own fly swatter.
So, it appears the way for Amelia to get a restful night's sleep - as well as Kim and me - is as simple as putting a fly swatter in her room. We're going to give it a try. After writing this, we'll all go shopping for a pink, or maybe a green, fly swatter for Amelia.
And she can swat that pesky fly, that bothersome mosquito and especially that obnoxious flu bug.
I'll let you know how it works.
(Note: Amelia received several fly swatters from our friends.The fly, the mosquito and the flu bug all left her alone.)