The Time I Stopped and Actually Listened

Bedtime is probably the hardest time at our house.

My son is a night owl, but the schedule dictates an early wake up. I wish I was the parent who could get her kid in bed by 8:00 pm each night. Sadly, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

My son is the king of making up excuses to slip out of bed and creep into my room.

“Mommy, I need a hug and three kisses.”

“Mommy, your bed is more comfortable.”

“My room is too hot/cold.”

“Mom, can I ask you a question?”

Lately, he started telling me his room was too dark. I balked the first time he mentioned it. His room has a sleep machine/night light combo, a star-shooting turtle, light from a streetlight shining through his window, and a good old-fashioned plug in night light. Too dark?! Seriously? It might as well be a disco  with the amount of light in there. Night after night, I’d walk him back to his room, review all the lights he has in his room, and tell him to stay in bed (for the 20th time that night).

Flash forward a few days. He still insists his room is too dark. I don’t like asking the question “why?” so I blame my desperation to get to sleep when I asked, “why is your room too dark?” I was expecting an answer of the “ummm … I don’t know” variety. His answer actually surprised me.

“I don’t like that big dark space right there.”

He was pointing to his closet, doors open at the foot of his bed. My heart sank because he was right – it looked like a big black hole with multiple amorphous shapes sticking out (dinosaurs and action figures I’m assuming). “You know, you’re right. It IS dark in there!” I said as I shut the closet doors.

“Thank you, mommy. I’m not scared any more.” Yes, my heart shattered. I felt so guilty. I’d been sending him to bed, night after night, discarding his pleas of being scared of his too-dark room. Biggest mom fail ever.

Ever since, I’ve made a point to pause and listen, not just hear, what he’s telling me. I want him to know that I will be the person he can tell anything. If I don’t take his fears seriously, will he stop telling me about them? I don’t want to find out.

It’s amazing what happens when you actually stop and listen.

Jaime Mackey
Originally from Florida, Jaime has lived in Southern Louisiana for most of her life (so, that makes her a local, right?). She currently resides on the Northshore with her husband and son and teaches high school English. An enneagram 5, you'll most likely find her doing hot yoga solo, on her phone researching a random topic or sitting in the comfort of her home with coffee and a book within an arm's reach.


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