Scaring your children half to death in the middle of the night does has its effects. I recently unearthed a story that tickled me to death, and made me remember just how horrifying it is when you have to depend on a parent to ‘chase away the monsters under the bed,’ –and they don’t actually do it right. Some of us can remember at least one occasion during which our parents said or did the wrong thing when they were supposed to be relieving our night-time anxieties. The majority of us relied on our parents to get the monsters out of the room, away from the bed, or, if we were really lucky, to just skip the spooning for one night, and let us crash in their rooms.
The cutest werewolf story ever told comes from Julie Bunt, in her column in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:
“My best friend has two daughters, Janie and Amber (names have been changed). Janie was always having bad dreams. It was a regular thing. Amber, on the other hand, always slept like a rock. Once she was out, there was no waking that girl. Janie and Amber had bunk beds at the time — Amber on the bottom and Janie on the top, since she was older.
My friend Jill (name NOT changed, because she deserves any embarrassment she may receive as a result of this article) worked funky hours, and sleep was a commodity she valued highly. Sadly, Janie’s almost nightly bad dreams caused some disruption in that sleep process.
Jill gets, oh, kind of cranky when she has not had enough sleep. On the fourth night in a row that Jill felt hot child breath on her face and heard, “Mom, I had a bad dream. There were werewolves in my room,
and they were trying to eat me.” Her exhausted and not-well-thought-out response was: “Don’t worry about it. They’ll eat Amber first, and they’ll be full and won’t bother you.” Her response from the child in the dark: “But, I AM Amber!” And then the sobbing began in earnest.
Jill was going to go sit with Amber until she fell back to sleep, but her husband, who wasn’t really the “cuddle bug” type, said, “I’ll go sit with her. I think you’ve done enough damage for one night. Don’t you?” And poor Jill lay there, bemoaning the fact that yet again her “Mother of the Year” award would go to someone else.
Fast forward 20 some years, and Amber has a daughter. Tiny little thing, but she loves all things creepy and scary. She’s 4 and has a wicked sense of humor. One night, Amber and her daughter are getting their groceries out of the car, and the little one says, “Shhhh… Mom. Did you hear it? It’s a werewoop. Right over there.” Amber says, “It is not a werewolf! Now go grab that bag, and let’s get in the house!” Says the wee one with hands on her hips, “What’s the matter, Mom? Are you afraid of werewoops?” And then she cackled an evil little laugh, and skipped her merry way into the house saying in a sing song voice, “Mom’s afraid of werewoops! Mom’s afraid of werewoops!”Amber goes into the house, puts the groceries away and calls her mother. “Did you tell her I was afraid of werewolves?” Jill replied, “Not yet!” and cackled an evil laugh, just like her little granddaughter.
Well, as we get older, our nightmares get analyzed, or written down for good story fodder, or discussed with our therapists (or in my case, while sobbing pitifully to my best friend over IM). We rarely get a chance to experience the terror we did as children, and unlike the fear experienced in horror movies, while we sleep, we can’t cover our eyes or hit pause and turn on some nice, cheery cartoons before bed. Nightmares scare us so much because they’re invasive reminders that real fear can find us even snug in our comfy beds. Are you afraid of werewoops?