As a parent, there are few things more terrifying than having the silence of the night broken by the blood-curdling screams of your child. So many scenarios flash through your mind and you are suddenly taken out of reality as you try to figure out what is happening down the hall, up the stairs, or in the next room. Is she hurt? Did she have a nightmare? Did a vampire/werewolf/mutant/bandit break into the house via her bedroom window? All manner of thoughts race through your head from the time you hear that heart-stopping sound to the moment you have your baby in your arms. A few nights ago that’s exactly what happened in our house.
I had just gotten HG latched for his pre-bedtime feeding. That was a miracle in and of itself because since getting his second tooth in, he’s started biting. OUCH. Boobies of the world ache for my suffering. But I digress…
K was already in bed and had been for fifteen minutes or so, about the same amount of time it generally takes her to settle and fall asleep. She’s past the point of crying out when we leave her room so it was a complete shock when I heard her scream. And this wasn’t just an I don’t want to be in my bed or I’m being a punk and demand you read me another story type of scream. This was an I’m terrified scream. I quickly (and gently) broke the suction on HG’s latch, propped him up on my shoulder, and leapt off the couch. I dashed down the hall with my confused baby in tow and burst into through the door to find K, still in her bed, curled up in the fetal position with her hands covering her head. When she realized I was in the room, no doubt because I was shouting “WHAT’S WRONG” in a panicked plea, she sat up on her knees, pointed at an angle toward the corner of the room, and said “IT’S A BUUUUUUUG!!!”
Before I continue I feel the need to share a little insect history… K never paid much attention to bugs until witnessing another little girl have a full on heart attack (not really but you would have thought she’d been stabbed by her scream) at the sight of a basic house fly. And since toddlers are influenced by the slightest little thing, you guessed it, she right-then-and-there became afraid of bugs. We’ve been working with her to just say “Shoo fly!” and carry on with her activity and she’s been making a lot of progress. So you can imagine my shock (and annoyance) when I burst into her room thinking she was defending herself from dementors only to learn that she saw a stinkin’ bug. Now back to the story…
I make my way over to her and reach across the bed rails to comfort her (meanwhile she has retreated back to fetal position and is still crying) while simultaneously trying not to roll my eyes and scan the room to find said bug. I don’t see any signs of the mystery insect so I ask her to show me again where the bug is. She points to the corner of the room and I look up, let my eyes wander, see nothing bug-like, and then something grabs my attention. You should know that in this moment I immediately feel bad for being annoyed with K’s reaction. A spider (and a pretty big one) is hanging from the ceiling directly over where her head would have been if she were laying in bed flat like I left her. This little sucker had pulled some kind of a mission impossible maneuver and had repelled down right over her face. Because of the darkness of her room she probably didn’t even see it until it was practically touching her nose. I would have screamed too baby girl.
It was about this time that Z came upstairs after hearing all the commotion. It was perfect timing because I was in no position to take care of the spider seeing as how in my haste to rescue my screaming child, I’d failed to re-hook the cup of my nursing bra. So not only was I hanging out like a Hooters waitress but was also leaking all over myself and HG. Being the hero he is, Z quickly squished the spider, who was making a mad-dash back up to the ceiling, between his hands and tossed it in the trash. Seeing my disheveled, and no doubt hysterical, state he assured me he had everything under control and took over consoling K, who was still pretty shaken up.
I went back into our room and resumed nursing HG. I was pleasantly surprised that K’s crying stopped almost immediately after Z took over. Not to knock his parenting ability but normally an event like this would have her spooked and fussy for a good while but within seconds of me situating myself back on the couch she’d completely calmed down. I even heard her happily chit chatting with her daddy (be still my heart) and sweetly wishing him goodnight. Z emerged from her room a few minutes later and I asked him what he did to calm her down so fast. This was his response, and my proof that he is a genius.
“I just told her the spider was Charlotte and that she was coming to snuggle and say goodnight before visiting with Wilbur and going to bed.”
K had watched Charlotte’s Web the day before – her first experience with the story – and had an immediate shift in attitude once the sudden appearance of a spider turned from frightening to friendly. Not in a million years could I have come up with something so brilliant to help calm her down, especially in the panicked state her scream had left me. I guess it pays to have a level-headed husband who can take over when my maternal instincts transform me into a scatter-brained basket case. I stared at him in awe as he shrugged like it was no big deal and walked back down the stairs.
The next morning K woke up talking about Charlotte’s visit to her bedroom and how she scared her at first but it was ok because she just wanted to snuggle. I will never underestimate the magical bond between a father and a daughter, especially with a quick and imaginative mind like Z’s.
Until next time…