Night Terrors: Just when you thought it was safe to put your feet up…

What do you think the best song intro of all time is…? Surely Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ has to be up there. It’s a song about exploring the fear of going to sleep for what lies beyond. I’ve included the YouTube clip here so you can listen to this musical masterpiece as you read this post. You’re welcome.

When I was a kid I remember lying in bed pretending a witch was coming up the hall. I’d get right down under the covers and hide, completely still and quiet, until the witch was gone. Technically I wasn’t scared, just pretending to be. But some kids have things that freak them out, monsters under their bed and what not. As an adult, the things that freak me out at night have changed. Picture this: House is tidy and quiet; Kids have been put to bed; You’ve poured your glass of wine or tea; You have a bowl of ice cream that is just melted enough to be soft and delicious but hard enough to avoid using a straw; You sit down and turn on the TV and put your feet up. Guaranteed, within 2 minutes, a night time monster will come out to get you…

Let’s take a look at the top 5 night terrors that now haunt my evenings:

1. The Camel


Regardless of how much fluid children drink throughout the day, you can guarantee that as soon as they are put to bed, they will need more. In fact, their dehydration appears to be equivalent to that of a camel at a trough, storing fluids in preparation for a lengthy journey across the Kalahari. And be warned that water consumed 10 seconds before lights out has no bearing on the fluid needed after lights out. Even 1 drop of water can be enough to calm the camel, so long as it involves you getting up.

2. The Scheduled Poo

Although the toilet is there all day and children have unfettered access to it, their bowels will only start working 3 minutes after they have been tucked into bed. I can pretty much guarantee every night that my youngest child will be up for this reason within 5 minutes of being put to bed. It’s quite uncanny, I’m not sure how she does it. But you can bet she will. And if there is not some parental involvement you can bet it will end up with an incident that will rival the clogged toilet scene in ‘Along Came Polly’ (google it, it’s pretty funny). I am not sure if this is actually a ‘scheduled poo’ or if it could possibly be a ‘defiant poo’, one that is determined to be noticed and will not appear until after dark. Either way, you’ll be getting up.

3. The Haunting Footsteps

Have you ever been sitting down with a book, or watching your favorite TV show and all you hear are the pitter patter of little feet up and down the hall? But when you finally get up to check it out, nobody seems to be out of bed? But then you sit back down and there they are again. You get up to check…again, nothing. Like a ghost, the footsteps come and go. On some nights it appears that nothing is actually happening but it’s enough to disturb your tranquility. Other times, something is happening and you only find out the next morning when you find the carnage of squeezed toothpaste or that your blush brush that has been used to create art with your moisturiser. 

4. The Agonising Pain

My youngest daughter called me in last night and flipped me the bird. I soon realised she wasn’t meaning to be rude, she was just showing me her sore middle finger by alienating it from it’s friends and sticking it out in front of my face, tall and proud. It was a wound that she felt warranted the emotional response and immediate medical attention as that of a gangrenous limb but was, in reality, a minute graze. Of course, it hadn’t bothered her all day until lights out. With any pain after this time, band aids must be administered to enable sleep. It is the same with all other ailments, they are exacerbated after lights out. Heads hurt, tummies ache, feet itch, eyes all of a sudden have sand in them…the list goes on. You will never have a child so sick or in torturous pain until you tuck them in and turn out their lights out.

5. The Important Communication

Many times I have been called in after lights to be told something incredibly important. It usually goes something like this…

Child (calling out): Mum, come in, I need to tell you something

Me: I’ve just sat down. Is it important?

Child: Yes, yes it’s really important!!! Come in now!

Me, wearily: OK, coming…

Child: Can we go to Flip Out for my next birthday party? (in 9 months)

OR: Does a boy bird have a penis?…Where is it??

OR: I wish I had pink eyebrows. I really want pink eyebrows.

As you can see, it was lucky I rushed in for those little nuggets. What I’d really like to say is:

If only it were this easy
If only it were this easy

So as you tuck those little munchkins in and then come out to the comfort of your child-free lounge, just don’t jinx yourself and celebrate too early or get too comfy. Heed Metallica’s warnings and watch TV with one ear open, gripping your cushion tight til the Sandman he comes.


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