“No More Nightmares” by Morgan Grismer ’23
It’s dark outside and the house is finally free of the voices that filled the living room not too long ago. I move silently around cleaning up the toys and putting away the couch cushions that were used for the ultimate fort twenty minutes prior. Almost done, then I can lay down, I thought to myself. That was until my thoughts were quickly interrupted by a little girl in pink pajamas, who was surprisingly able to make her way down the stairs without me hearing.
“I cannot fall asleep,” she says in a quiet voice.
“Please Cate, I get it but just try. It is way past your bedtime,” I start to say with frustration as we seem to have this conversation every time I babysit.
“Can you please wait in my room until I fall asleep? I get nightmares. Please,” she pleads as any seven year old would do.
I try to hide the unconvinced look on my face as I cannot turn her request down, “Yeah, I can do that.”
I let her guide me up the stairs as we made our way to her bedroom. The same pink room I was in not that long ago when I put her to bed the first time. I sit down on the hardwood floor as she crawls back into bed. I begin to contemplate how I ended up here. I silently sat there feeling myself grow somewhat impatient. But it was not long until I realized how tremendously this already helped her. This small act, which I thought would be pointless, was something that made a big difference for her.
She yawns and I hear her voice come from under the blankets, “Thank you Ninja Morgan.” I cannot help but laugh as she uses the nickname she gave me when I first started watching her. She quietly adds, “No more nightmares.”
“No nightmares,” I say while I now watch her soundlessly fall asleep in front of me.
I sat in the dark room and wondered what it was about having me in there that made her feel safe from nightmares. That was until I realized I do the same thing as a seventeen year old, the only difference is it’s not about nightmares. When I feel unsafe, I look for someone in the crowd, someone that I know will make me feel safe with nothing but their presence. Sometimes that’s all someone needs. Even if it meant I had to take twenty minutes to sit on a hardwood floor, I was able to help her fall asleep.
Some tend to brush off kids when they complain about not falling asleep and just send them right back to bed. Which was exactly my first thought. But I needed to understand that just because I don’t find it hard to fall asleep does not mean the child in front of me doesn’t.
Everyone has their own struggles. It is the simple act of helping someone I care about, no matter what the age. At the beginning I thought it would be a waste of time, but seeing how my presence automatically gave her security, I realized there was no such thing.
We look for people in our life whom we feel safe around. There doesn’t have to be any talking or noise, just knowing that the person is with you is good enough. And for that night, I was her person.