"Sean, how many times do I have to keep telling you? There is absolutely nothing underneath your bed!"
"But mommy!" my son whined plaintively, big tears popping out in his large, grey-blue eyes, "There IS!! They don't start bothering me until you go away! I hear them; there are monsters underneath my bed!!"
I sighed. We, mother and son, had been having this tired argument for a little over a week now. Up until a week ago, life had been relatively normal: nothing out of the ordinary. Sean was a typical, happy four-year-old boy full of zeal and adventure; nothing daunted him. Suddenly he was acting as if he was scared of his own shadow and for the past seven nights, I had been ripped from a nice, deep sleep by my child's piercing screams.
I didn't understand something. How could a little boy who loved playing with dinosaurs and hide in the darkest of spaces only to jump out at us laughing suddenly be afraid?? It didn't seem to make any sense whatsoever.
I hugged Sean close to my body. His little heart was pounding a mile a minute and his breathing was ragged, labored. I looked at his face, trying to read his mind. His eyes were huge with fear and beads of sweat were pouring down his face like rain (or was it tears, or a combination of the two??). I felt so sorry for him.
All I could do was try to reassure him that all was well and nothing was out to "get him". I then laid him back down onto his pillow, covered him up with his blanket, placed his toy Elmo into his arms, and kissed his forehead. I told him to say some prayers so that the angels could watch over him as he slept.
For about an hour, all was well. I tried to go back to sleep myself but could not. All I could do was think about Sean and the fact that something had awakened him from his slumber for the past week. Whatever it was truly frightened him. Maybe it was his imagination running wild again, I surmised, after all, he was only a little boy of four; children this age had bad dreams from time to time; it was normal.
I then lay back down on my pillow, closed my eyes, and went to sleep ... only to be awakened again by the sharp, piercing, high-pitched wails of a young child. I sprang out of bed, tripping over the cat who lay beside the bed, and stumbled haphazardly to Sean's room.
Sean was sitting bolt upright in bed, covers pulled to his chin, eyes widened in terror. He was crying hysterically, saying that the monsters were back and that they were going to get him. "I heard them, Mommy!!" he cried, "They said they were gonna do bad things to me!! I am NOT tellin' stories, Mommy!! There ARE monsters under my bed, for REAL!!"
I sighed heavily as I sank to the floor, so as to peer under his bed. Only things that were underneath his bed were his tennis shoes and a discarded teddy bear he had probably dropped while in sleep. Nothing unusual.
"Sean, there is absolutely nothing here! Only things underneath your bed are your tennies and your teddy, Mr. Bear-Bear! That's all!! There are no monsters!!" I told my son.
Somehow, Sean wasn't convinced. He continued to cry.
~To be continued.~