My Bag of Tricks

January 26, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 20 Comments
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We’re running scared over here. All of a sudden, things are scary. Everything.

The wall. The washing machine. The toilet that inexplicably whistles. The curtains. The closet. The sandbox where we’ve logged hours and hours building and demolishing. Scary. All of it.

I’m not sure what to make of it. So far, neither Lollipop nor Giggles has been able to articulate exactly what is scary, save some vague mention of noises and spiders, along with some hand-waving and brow-furrowing.

But every day. And every night. And in the middle of the night. “I’m scaaaaaaaarrrrrred!” Or “Come wiiiiiiiiiiith meeeeeee!” Or “Don’t leeeeeeeaaaaaave meeeeeee!”

I know the key is acknowledging, not dismissing, their fears. I know they want to hear that how they feel is okay. But surely they can put your own pajamas on in a room where three lights are glowing brightly and they can see Daddy just a few feet away in the bathroom. Surely?

“I’m scaaaaaaarrrrred!” Apparently not.

So for sanity and sleep, I’ve had to resort to smoke and mirrors. Sleight of hand. Trickery.

First, there’s the Scary Fairy. She senses a child’s fear and swoops in at any time of the night to shoo away the scaries. Shhhhhhhh! Did you hear that? That was her. The Scary Fairy. She was just here. And the thing that was scaring you? Gone. You heard her, right? I thought so.

Then, there’s Liquid Magic. A bottle of water mysterious clear stuff that is specially formulated for the one who possesses it. Lollipop Magic works only for Lollipop. Giggles Magic works only for Giggles. Shake that bottle of Liquid Magic and noises, shadows, spiders, monsters, giant attacking butterflies, or whatever else has a tiny person’s big imagination in a tizzy will disappear. Poof!

And when all else fails, there’s Daddy Magic and Mommy Magic. The trump card, if you will. Nothing scary can prevail over this kind of magic. Nothing. Spiders? Nope. Monsters? Nope. Attacking butterflies? Nope. Even in the middle of the night? Especially in the middle of the night.

I can’t say that Lollipop and Giggles are 100 percent convinced of this magic. There’s still a lot of gesturing and pleading and earnest discussion of nonspecific impending doom. But they’re sort of buying it. They’re almost persuaded. At the very least, they’re convinced enough to let Mommy sleep at 2:37 a.m. and 4:16 a.m. and 5:23 a.m.

And to me? That’s magical.

Do you deceive your children for their own good? How do you handle fears your children can’t articulate? And does the Scary Fairy come to your house?


This post is part of Amber’s new Non-Judgmental Parenting meme, where she invites us to share one thing we are proud of doing as parents. Join in the conversation at Making the Moments Count.



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  1. Yep, I’ve resorted to trickery, ahem, I mean magic, too.

    With each child, it was a different form. For Gabe, a blog friend from Australia sent an adorable stuffed “sausage dog” as a lovey. One night, when nightmares threatened, the inspiration for a monster-fighting, nightmare-banishing Australian Sausage Dog was born. It worked. I even did a blog post about it, and when Katy (sausage dog’s creator) read it, she even sent Gabe a Superman cape for Sausage Dog, which gave him even more powers such as flying around the room searching out scary critters.

    TWO years later, and Sausage Dog’s powers are going strong, although thankfully, we don’t seem to need them very often.

    I’m sure it’s the move, and the impending changes coming about in your lives that is bringing the scares on. Best of luck, and kudos to your creative powers!

  2. Just so ya know, I’m taking notes. I love how imaginative you are with your kids. When I was growing up, adults used scare tactics quite a bit to get compliance out of kids, so I don’t really have any good models on how to take the scary away from my child. But now I do… 🙂

  3. Dealing with the fears is hard, and I admire that you are so understanding and creative with your kids.

    When my son was 3 or so he would get these horrible nightmares/images of gigantic insects coming toward him. I kept telling him that they weren’t real, that it was just something his brain was making up. My husband, instead, told him to stomp on them, or pick up a “stick” and strike back. I was impressed – it worked. I realized that what he was trying to do was make my son feel empowered. It never occurred to me!

  4. I do all of the tricks you mention. And, more. Parenting knows no shame, I suppose.

  5. Don’t grownups face fears and panic – especially at night?

    Your kids are really little. The imagination runs wild. So I’m all for the bigger (adult) imagination to spin a tale or belief system to assuage those fears. I see no harm in it whatsoever. And plenty of age-appropriate good. Including a little sleep for the pooped parents.

  6. Yes, the scary fairy visits us, especially at night. We are STILL trying to transition my five year old in her own bedroom. It hasn’t worked because she is scared of everything about her room, even though it has been painted pink and purple. We’ve resorted to putting an air mattress on our bedroom floor, because scary fairy or not, we all need some sleep. Otherwise Mommy will be the one doing all the scaring…

  7. Genius. I think when the time comes, Scary Fairy might just make a cameo in our home. Because you know what? Sleep matters more than truth. (Sometimes.)

  8. Non-specific impending doom — perfect. We have moments of this, and I do my level best to talk through it with them, acknowledge and dispatch…but…ugh. There are times that in the middle of the night, I get FREAKED out by their fears. What’s that, doll? You heard a scary voice? I’M OUTTA HERE!

    Please pass the spray bottle.

    And one for my kids, too.

  9. We’re not employing these tactics for our scaredy cats, not because I don’t approve but because I’m too lazy and not imaginative enough . . . explains why I vacuum with a thirty-pounder on my hip (2.5 year old terrified of the vacuum) and why I am constantly escorting my five year-old down to the basement and staying with him when he is perfectly capable of entertaining himself safely down there.

    I’m going to get to work on some sort of magical fairy that makes vacuuming and basements more friendly!

  10. Wow! very creative :). Do the kids sense your fear/anxiety of the move or something? It’s amazing what they pick up on. john tells so many scary stories,that real life is a piece of cake around here. 🙂 I hope the liquid magic and scary fairy do their duty, so that you can sleep!!

  11. You are so clever. Your kids are lucky to have you — it sounds like you possess the ability to be supportive and imaginative at the wee hours of the morning!

  12. Um…do ya have a bottle for rebecca’s liquid magic??

  13. I had bottles much like this, actually. My spray bottles had a hint of lavendar essential oil in them. Lavendar is said to be soothing and calming. I don’t know if it’s true, but I need to believe in something and flowers and essential smells work well for me.

    These days, as the kids are older, we don’t so much have the Good Dream Spray anymore, but I still have my essential oils in my bedside table. When the kids aren’t feeling well, they wander into my room for some “juice.”

    Peppermint helps sore tummies, medieval mix chases away the onset of a cold, I have one called Valor for those blue days when the emotional yucks have a hold on us. I don’t know if it’s the smells or the mommy touch or the combination. I need something tangible to believe in. They do too. This seems to work.

    I think you’re a brilliant mother. Keep that bag of tricks coming!

  14. I still have a scaredy cat over here at age 8. It’s gotten so bad, lately. So, so bad. And there ain’t any scary fairy or spray that will kill the worry of a “robber coming in and killing you and daddy.”


    • You need a special kind of invincible magic … the 120-pound guard dog! Just so happens, I have one who needs a home for a year … =>

  15. This kind of scary has found it’s way into our home too. It’s brand new, and we’ve been a bit surprised by it. My husband came home one day with a cure: he puts out a treat for the monsters (a cookie, a piece of gum) and he tells my son that monsters LOVE THIS STUFF. If it’s still there in the morning than there are no monsters. They even built a little lego house to put it in. Not sure if it’s working, but they are having fun with it.

  16. N. has taken to sharing our bed with us (and L.). She only vaguely hints at fears, whereas O. at her age was very loudly vocal (ok, he screamed in the middle of the night) and articulate about the snakes, gorillas and moving picture frames that haunted his room. I was beginning to think she made up any dreams in order to get a free pass into the big comfy bed. but two nights ago she whispered to me very frantically at 2AM — “Is the wolves dunna eat us??” Guess there are more nightlights in our future.

  17. Love the Scary Fairy. My kids don’t use the “I’m scared” line but they do come up with 18 ways to avoid bedtime. My favorite tonight was from Javi. His breathing is too heavy. His OWN breathing was keeping him up. Can you send me a fairy for that?!

  18. Great idea! I’m going to have to use that. My main thing is that we can’t be on a different level or they’re scared, and that goes for the almost 7, the 5 and the 2 year old.

  19. Stacia, I love this post. Absolutely love it. When the fear starts appearing in young children sometimes magic is all they really need. : )

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