Wil had not slept in his own bed for months. He said he had a bad dream.
A bad dream could mean lots of things. It could mean something scary in his room. A toy, a book, a game. A bad dream could mean a scary occurrence that he couldn’t shake.
I dug deeper. Tell me more about your bad dream. He gave me a clue: Elmo cats. I knew right then the culprit. Mr. Tiger.
Mr. Tiger really isn’t all that scary. He’s a fluffy puppet with soft white mutton chops, friendly eyes and is more prone to smiling than biting. What he does do, though, is come on the screen and let out a roar.
We have a 100lb yellow lab and the fact that he rarely barks and is an intensely laid back dude is the reason he and Wil are best buddies. Other than Woody, Wil is terrified to be in another dog’s presence. The same goes for babies.
Though he’ll look at pictures of round-cheeked babies and floppy-eared dogs all day long and exclaim how adorable they are, in person there is nothing more terrifying.
Babies and dogs belt out loud noises unpredictably. Unexpected loud noises are Wil’s kryptonite. He’ll shrivel up on the ground with hands clamped over his ears. Sitting through his sister’s basketball game with the sporadic buzzes and whistle blows takes enormous convincing complete with the promise of a hot dog and Sprite. He’ll sit up at the very top, hands clamped over his noise cancelling headphones. As he’s gotten older, he’s become more aware that not everyone wears headphones. He prefers not to wear them when he can brave it out. But with babies, dogs and sporting events, even pride cannot win. Without headphones, he’s not going in.
Mr. Tiger has turned into an obsession for Wil. He wants to turn away but he just can’t. It’s like a Jack in the Box. He keeps cranking the handle (or hitting the rewind button) even though he knows one of the turns is going to make him jump.
I took the DVD out of his room. I talked to him about it. Still, he’s not going in.
I’d put Wil to bed, and at some point during the night he’d make his way to the basement, take out a sleeping bag, drag it up the stairs, and spread it out on the couch. It didn’t take long for him to create a deep dip in one of the cushions from his tired tush.
I talked to him again. I showed him the divet in the couch cushion. He was conscientious of his couch imprint. So he moved his sleeping bag to the living room floor.
I didn’t think the floor situation would last long. Our living room floor is hardwood with a wool carpet spread over it. Not the cushiest sleeping material. But he persisted.
I tried bribes. I made promises I’m not sure I could have kept. The call of the tiger was too strong. On the floor he slept.
Yesterday I googled ways to keep your toddler in bed. He’s far from a toddler, but I simply needed a way to get him back into his bed, and there were no resources on how to keep your teenaged son in his bed that fit our situation.
So last night I took Wil’s sleeping bag and spread it on the floor of his room. I told him I was going to sleep there to keep the bad dreams away. He looked at me like I was crazy but he agreed to sleep in his own bed. For the first time in months. Wil went to sleep, in his own bed, without issue. I was so relieved at the success of this idea, that though my sleeping quarters weren’t ideal, my relief relaxed me into sleep.
When I woke up, I silently exited Wil’s room. I went into the kitchen to make coffee and get ready for the day. Not a peep from Wil’s room. His door stayed blissfully closed. He went in and stayed in.
About two hours later, I opened Wil’s door to wake him for school. He was not in his bed. He had taken my place on the floor in the sleeping bag, snoring away.
I guess we both had our wins.