Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fear in the Big Blue House

Last night, my son had his first proper nightmare.

When you have kids you get used to a certain amount of crying in the night that you have to get up and deal with. This was on a new level for Sean, though: full-blast, terrified screaming that woke me up thinking the house was on fire. Fifteen minutes of comforting controlled his shaking and crying enough to get him back to sleep, but up until then the poor little sod was a wreck. This morning he took me to his bed to show me the spiders, and was a shade confused to find there were none there ...

By coincidence, my daughter had only asked me about nightmares earlier that day: she'd had one about a big, metal dog and wanted to know all about what causes bad dreams.

Er ...

There was no use blathering out some answer about it being your brain doing its filing while you're asleep (she's not quite five), so I simply told her that if you think of nice things before you go to sleep, chances are you'll have a nice dream. That seemed to work, and she wandered off happy.

The conversation did get me wondering about why bad dreams are called nightmares, though. Seems the traditional view was that bad dreams were the result of demons ('mara') sitting on your chest during the night.

So, night mara.

I wake up in the middle of the night with something sitting on my chest it's usually a child or a labrador ...


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