With advancing age and responsibility comes a real appreciation of being able to reply
“Yeah, ok. Same old same old”
when someone asks you
“How are things?”
It is increasingly marvellous to actually have no big news to share, nothing that warrants a deep and meaningful, or a sympathetic dip of the head and pat on the back. It means the car hasn’t died a horrible, expensive death, with a tank full of petrol in it. It means that the Noro virus may have barked at the door over Christmas but didn’t actually make it in. People are well. People are sleeping. Finally.
It’s all quietly, and very smoothly, tickety boo.
As you know, I am normally a mega sunny person with the sparkly, colourful disposition of a rainbow.
Alright, like 70% of the time.
But this week I have been one polite smile and head nod away from shouting SHUT YOUR CAKE HOLE at people, and one ankling-ramming ambush from a school child on a scooter from grabbing their infant assault vehicle and snapping it in half over my Incredible Hulk thigh.
I can only put it down to frustration. I feel frustrated that I suddenly have about 4 balls in the cut-the-atmosphere-with-a-machete air and I am about to watch each and every one plop to the floor. Like bird shit.
Alex is fighting monsters. Every night. And real ones. Actual real ones. My poor wee baby has identified an hunter, a thing that exists vividly only to him, which wants to get him. It waits for him in the bathroom. It watches him and stalks him through the kitchen, should he need to have a sip of his drink. It tries to grab him on the stairs.
“Mummy, it has two horns and wears a hat. He lives in the woods and when he gets me he pulls me away from you and he laughs and laughs”.
It laughs and laughs. How horrible is that? As a 32 year old woman who wakes her husband up most nights to tell him about her vivid brutal nightmares, lest I fall asleep and back into said horror, my heart breaks when I listen to his terrors and fears. Because I know how he feels.
They are not “just dreams”. I spend a large portion of my life asleep and in a torture chamber I am unable to escape from. Waking up can simply be stepping through the door from sleep to awake, leaving it open, and allowing the monsters and ghouls to slowly, silently, sneakily follow through behind you.
It’s horrendous. And now Alex has this too? I am utterly powerless to fight on his behalf something that I can’t actually see. My only weapons are words and let’s face it, words are a ticking time bomb that may, or may not explode in your face, should you accidently say the wrong thing.
I don’t want to tell him that monsters are not real. Because, evidently for him they are. He sees them. I have seen them. To tell him it’s in his head I feel will just be telling him I don’t believe him and he can’t trust to tell me how he feels. But at the same time, I don’t want to indulge the monster and feed it up until it’s big and strong and its stomach has stretched and it’s hungry again.
Because of this monster, he wakes every night between 2 and 5, screaming and crying and frantically scrabbling about. Because of this he literally won’t leave my side and now, I know what a mother elephant must feel like, constantly having an infant under her gut, terrified because he is being hunted by something.
I took this as I was cleaning my teeth.
Here, I was just standing (he smiles because he feels safe)
When the chips are down, I know he can power through and I take a whisp of comfort from that. Ed fell off the sofa and landed on the coffee table in an injured and hysterical pile. Now, there was a tiny bit of blood and a HELL of a lot of fuss. Ed is the next theatrical “big thing” and will win awards for his dramatic flair, but regardless, the kid just fell onto a wooden edge and is holding his leg at a cack angle so, who knows? Plus, my OTT, fussing kicks in (alright, I get it, Alex inherited my nightmares, Ed inherited my drama) and I frantically start asking him to wiggle his toes and begin mopping his brow with my sweaty, panicky palm.
“Darling! Oh my precious darling!” (yes, I know. Ok?)
“I WANT ELLIE!” he wails
“What my darling? Say again my sweet boy?” (Yes, fine, I get it!)
“ELLIE! ELLIE! OH PLEASE GET ME ELLLLLIIIIIIEEEE!”
Ah. Crap. Ellie. His favourite toy in the world. Ellie, a limp, much loved toy dog. Ellie. Who is upstairs. And we, who are downstairs.
“I WANT HER! PLEASE! OW! OW!”
See, I can’t leave Ed, he is clinging to me in pain. But he wants the toy dog. I have the answer to his hysterical, thrashing problem, but it’s a floor above me and I am wedged under 3 1/2 stone of solid boy and salty tears.
What to do?
I look at Alex. Right in the eye.
“Alex. Do you think you could run upstairs and get Ellie for Edward?”
We both know what I am saying. He’ll have to do it on his own. And the daylight is fading (this isn’t a dramatic nod to something more sinister, it’s just actually physically fading and I forgot to put the hall light on). Poor Alex. He has a choice. His little pupils get fractionally bigger.
His mouth sets firm.
And he runs.
Up the stairs! Along the corridor! Into the bedroom! Back along the corridor! Down the stairs! Into the lounge! With Ellie.
Puffed out. Eyes large. He smiles at me.
“I was very, very brave”.
And he was. He was so brave. So I know he’ll be alright eventually. I know people will read this blog and think I am pulling heavily on my other significant personality trait of “over reacting”, but I don’t care. And I will most likely smack anyone on the nose if they say
“It’s just a phase!”.
Because sometimes, it isn’t. It wasn’t for me. And what if it isn’t for him? I feel incredibly worried that I am not doing something right for him. I feel like someone has got 6 jigsaw puzzles (each with a decent possible answer to my problem on) and thrown them up in the air and let them scatter all over the floor. And I am walking on them, all hard and sticking up and like eggshells.
People will kindly reply to this blog with suggestions, theories, the “answer to our problem”, and it will be well meaning and I will nod my head and say
“Oh yes! I will try that!”
and inside think
“No. That wont work”
And we will just go through the motions and carry on doing our best. I just feel very sad for him. Because even though I can try and help him during the day, ultimately, when he sleeps, he is on his own.