Toddler Afraid Of The Dark

Max and DodgeMax, my two-year-old, has been a champ when it comes to sleeping and eating.  He’ll eat anything you put in front of him and he has a specific routine for naps and bedtime that he sticks to pretty well.  Till recently.  Over the past few weeks he has started prolonging his bedtime routine more and more by asking for longer baths, more books, extra kisses, and more cuddles.  How do you say no to more kisses and cuddles?  At first I didn’t…then it became par for the course and the words, “One last kiss?” (albeit adorable) became the bane of my 7:30 PM hour.  Then, the issue revealed it’s head a few weeks ago.

As a toddler Max struggles to find the words required when he is mad, frustrated or scared.  The floodgate of words that pours out of his mouth at dinner when he makes a convincing argument for more juice instead of milk suddenly becomes dammed when you ask him why he threw the Legos down the stairs at the cat.  “I ju wha ta mee no Lego a ssstair mmpff cat.”  Huh?  This same style of speech is what I am greeted with in the middle of the night when he calls out to me or wails.  He can’t verbalize what is wrong.  So you have to interrogate him and figure out which “yesses” are real and which ones are just him saying “yes.”

ME: “What’s a matter buddy?

MAX: “Max mmmm ay a mm ark.”

ME: “You’re mmmm ay a mm ark?”

MAX: “No, I’m a hay a ark.”

ME: “You’re afraid of the dark?”

MAX: “Yeah, Max is afraid of the dark.”

ME: “Okay, what are you afraid of?”

MAX: “The dark.”

ME: “Right, is it the camera?”

MAX: “Yeah.”

ME: “Is it the turtle?

MAX: “Yeah.”

ME: “Is it the running chainsaw in the corner?”

MAX: “Yeah.”

ME: “Is it the airplane?”

MAX: “Yeah.”

Max excited in bedSo…clearly there is no running chainsaw in the corner…so what is Max afraid of?  The dark, yes…I know.  Every night when I tuck him in he has become increasingly obsessed with the camera in the corner of his room.  It is a wireless network camera that has been fantastic!  We put him to bed, then log into it via our phone or iPad, and can go across the street to a friend’s house and still have eyes and ears on him.  Pretty sweet.  At least it was till now.  Now, in Max’s imagination, it is a creature in the dark waiting to pounce him.  It has one green light to indicate it is on and when it is dark there are four infrared lights so it can see in the dark.  It became quickly obvious that this was what had him spooked the most…so I took it off the wall this week.  While this helped, Max was still afraid of the dark so we have implemented new pieces to assist with his going to bed:

  1. He has a rocket ship nightlight on right next to his bed.
  2. He has a glowing turtle that puts stars on the ceiling for 20 minutes.
  3. We leave the hallway light on.
  4. We open his closet and turn the closet light on if need be.
  5. We gave him a special flashlight he sleeps with.

MaxSleepingLast night I found out that if you sneak into his room in the middle of the night and take the flashlight away, turn it off, and put it on the shelf…Max knows…even in his sleep.  Without opening his eyes or fully waking up he began to cry and toss around the bed.  I snuck back in to his room, turned on the flashlight, and placed it in his hand.  Conk!  Night, night.  I can vividly remember being scared to death of the dark when I was little and hating the Cookie Monster puppet that sat on my shelf in my room.  I loved Cookie Monster by day but at night…those eyes…always watching me.  Creepy.  I’d cry for my Dad who would come and take Cookie away and kiss me goodnight.  I liked having the curtains open so I could see the street light outside my window.  Kate slept with the closet light on when we started dating a decade ago.  The dark can be spooky.


Max and Dodge cuddleIn the next few months Max will move into the “Big Boy Room” so Dodge can have the nursery.  The camera will go back up so we can spy on Dodge but his stay in the nursery will be very short as we want them to share a room together as soon as Dodge is sleeping through the night.  I think I am going to need to come up with some fun energy efficient lighting options for the boy’s room once the theme is decided on.  If it is “Fire Engine Bunk Beds” then I will add in lights they can activate with buttons and such.  If it is “Rocket Ship Beds In Space” then I will add LED consoles and maybe some LED stars for a night light.  Either way…who knows what kids will be afraid of once the lights go off.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get my chainsaw back from Max’s room.

Max tackles Dodge

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