Hanging out with my family on the boat the other day, I was reminded of a parenting truth I had to learn the hard way...
Even though kids don't come with instruction manuals (dangit), sometimes the answer is obvious.
Here's how I first learned this truth...the hard way...
Several years ago, when our youngest was about 2-years-old, there were several nights in a row that she was scared at bedtime. Well, to be completely honest, we weren't sure if she was really scared--or if she had just figured out a new bedtime-postponing tactic. She's a smart one, she is. However, since we'd just moved out to our camp cabin for the summer, we figured she was having a difficult time adjusting to a new sleeping environment.
Because, over and over again at bedtime, she kept looking over at her bookshelf area, and saying, "No wike scawy eyes! Scawy eyes mean!"
We'd take turns consoling her, holding her and telling her in a reassuring voice, "Sweetie, there are no scary eyes looking at you. There's nothing scary in your room. You are safe here with Mommy and Daddy. Now, lie back down and go to sleep." We'd go to that corner of the room and show her every stuffed animal that was in her toy box, and show her that it had sweet eyes. We'd reassure her until we were exhausted.
But, this is our child who doesn't give up easily. And that's putting it mildly.
So, for several nights, for a LONG time each night, we would reassure her that there was NOTHING scary in her room.
And, still, she would look towards the bookshelves and tell us emphatically, "NO. WIKE. SCAWY. EYES."
I think in her limited 2-year-old language she was trying to say, "Hey, people: LISTEN TO ME. I AM TELLING YOU THERE ARE SCARY EYES LOOKING AT ME THAT I DO NOT LIKE. YOU ARE THE ADULTS--PLEASE TAKE CARE OF IT. And also, I'd like some more candy from the snack jar, please."
Finally, after exhausting EVERY reassuring phrase I could possibly think of, I picked up my child, carried her across the room and flipped on the light. Standing near the bookshelf, I said (umm, maybe in a slightly exasperated voice) "WHERE are the scary eyes, Sara Beth? POINT to what you are talking about!"
And that sweet baby girl pointed towards the top shelf of the bookshelf--way up near the ceiling where her daddy stores some extra summer camp supplies.
And guess what? There were a stack of rolled up orange boat flags, with just the corner of one hanging down a little bit. All that was really showing was the corner of the flag...with the company's logo...
Here--I'll show you:
My precious little girl had TRIED to tell me each night that she was scared of the creepy little logo man peering down at her. And her DUMB MOM kept telling her over and over again to go to sleep, that the scary eyes didn't exist.
Sara Beth's big tall daddy took those mean ole scawy-eyed flags and GOT RID OF THEM forever and ever, amen.
Never again will scary eyes peer down on my baby girl in our camp cabin again.
And...hopefully...never again will her mama ignore the obvious.