We (and I mean you and I) are reaching a new milestone right this very second. Instead of logging on to WebMD or calling Sadie’s pediatrician, I am first asking you about a peculiar parenting situation that has me flummoxed.
Something tells me that you guys will give me insight and perspective I need when the doctor’s office opens, and I can talk to someone in a professional capacity.
Here’s the deal:
About 12 days ago, Sadie started having a recurring nightmare during her nap. She wakes up crying– real, legitimate heartbreaking tears of distress. I can hear her sobbing into her pillow, so I go into her room, and she seems so grateful to see me. I find it odd that she doesn’t come get me down the hall like she used to only two weeks ago.
The first two times I went to her, I patted her head and asked her if she had a bad dream. Both of those times, she gave the exact same report: “It was big. Big, Mommy. My room was really big, my bed was big and all my toys were really big. The big thing was coming.” It didn’t seem rehearsed or calculated– she was still half asleep and talking really fast.
I asked her a few questions, and she kept repeating that “Something big was coming. Everything was big.”
A few days later, S., our sitter, reported she had the exact same scene with Sadie, when she put her down for a nap. (I hadn’t told her about Sadie’s dream.)
Then, it happened again yesterday afternoon– after sleeping for about 40 minutes, Sadie came out into the hall, looking confused and terrified. Again, she told me about how big her bed was, and confirmed that she was very scared.
Sometimes at night, she says she is afraid of having that dream again.
Here’s something even more odd: I told Jeff about these dreams and the terrorizing “bigness” in them, and he said that he used to have a similar dream when he was a kid. He couldn’t remember what age he was, but he definitely remembered nightmares about the scale of his bedroom.
Because of my years of therapy, I can’t help but analyze this dream. I have decided that the dream is about Sadie starting preschool. Ya’ll, we have talked up preschool like it’s not only the bees knees, but also the wings, the torso and the head. “Sadie, it’s going to be so fun! There will be so many friends to play with every day! You are such a big girl now.”
During the day she seems amped about school and tells everyone she’s about to start. Her teacher sent her a letter in the mail, including a picture of herself doing a yoga pose (tree), and Sadie walks around talking to the picture of Ms. G all the time. She sleeps with it at night.
We have also read books about starting school. She’s obsessed with an Elmo video that has one of the most annoying songs about “getting ready for school.”
My hypothesis is that Sadie knows that something big is coming (because we’ve beat that head underneath her curls about it), and she’s trying to process it emotionally. During the day, when she’s awake, it all seems exciting, but her terror about change or having to be a big girl or the impending newness catches up with her when she’s dozing off.
So, ya’ll, my wise, informed, generous, and more experienced parents, what do you think? Have you heard of 3-year-old kids having recurring nightmares? What do you think about my hypothesis? Should I lay off all the pro-school propaganda and let her just enjoy the last few days as a little girl?
[Also: Don't google "child's nightmares," because the images were so scary that now I have to sleep with a light on.]
Thank you for the feedback!