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A few weeks after Cora was born, Maddie
started waking up crying. Since she had just hit two years old, I
thought perhaps nightmares were beginning. But she wasn’t
waking up screaming – just crying, almost moaning. We’d
go in and talk to her and she’d tell us she was scared of the
monsters in her room. I chalked it up to the change of having a new
baby in the house – perhaps Cora’s cries were waking
her. So we consoled her and talked about it a bit, but didn’t
worry too much.

After all, how much could Maddie really be
scared of monsters? The only monsters she’s ever seen are the
friendly ones on Sesame Street. “I’m scared of the
monsters,” she’d say, hiccupping. “You’re
scared of Elmo? Or Cookie Monster? Or Zoe?” I’d tease

“No, I’m scared of the tall man who comes in my room
when you leave,” she’d say. “He wants to get

Ok, that’s enough to make you vow to unroll a sleeping bag
next to her bed and never leave her side. Poor kiddo.

This lasted for about a month, and never worked her into a frenzy
but was definitely a source of low-level worry even during the day.
Our once-fearless toddler became a bit more cautious, more
concerned about what was around the next corner. And she remembered
her fears and feelings from the night remarkably well in the light
of the morning.

We talked through the whole monster thing, saying the only monsters
we knew of were the friendly ones on Sesame Street. We also told
her that anytime she was scared, she just had to call out and
we’d come running. “I’ll never let anything get
to you, Baby Girl,” I heard Brian say one night during
Monster Talk. We also talked through the spiritual component,
explaining that God is bigger than anything on this earth and has
dominion even over the monsters. I taught her to say, “Get
away from me, monster! God protects me!” and heard her
practicing it during the day. Eventually the night wakings receded
and we thought it was all over.

Just a few nights ago, though, it started back up and is worse than
ever. My poor girl will sometimes start crying not ten seconds
after the door shuts from her night-night routine. We’ve put
a night-light in, which helps some – she sits up and checks
on it often. And while it casts a few shadows, which may make her
uneasy, I think she prefers that to the pitch black her room used
to be.

But I don’t know what else to do and there seems to be no end
in sight. Night-night routine now takes forever, since after
prayers we end up snuggling in the dark for a very long time as the
parent reassures Maddie and calms her fear. I suspect every once in
a while that the “I’m scared” she throws up as I
head for the door is simply a ploy for more snuggling, but
I’ve heard her real almost-screaming cries too often to give
too much credence to that suspicion.

There’s little more we can do at this point except love her
and try to stick it out. I’m dying to get her into a real bed
– I think getting her off the floor and the air mattress and
into a real bed with a real frame will help a great deal, because
she’ll occasionally request to sleep in her crib (which she
hasn’t done in months), saying that she feels
“safer” behind the “walls” and off the
floor where the monsters can’t reach her. But with our
finances it’s out of the question right now, so she’s
stuck with her ant’s view of her room and the tall shadows
everything casts.

So for now we simply snuggle –sometimes nearly an hour
– until she’s fatigued enough to stop being fearful and
go to sleep. And we pray together, and talk about it. But the fear
is still there, underneath everything.

Just yesterday I heard her playing night-night with Elmo again, and
she was talking through the monster thing with him. “So
listen, Elmo, you have to go night-night right now. But if you get
scared and see monsters, just yell ‘Maddie!’ into the
monitor and I’ll come running to you. I’ll come running
to you and I’ll pick you up and run through all the monsters
and I won’t let them get you. I’ll protect you.”

I have to confess I almost started crying. My two-year-old is so
scared of those monsters, yet she’s offering to face them for
her friend. I really love my kid.

Where are those monsters? I’ll kick their butts.


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