SHE screamed out “Mum, where are you?’’ with such terror in her voice I could only but run to her, hoping she was OK. It had been a long time since this nightly stalker had visited; since he’d totally taken over her little body.
When I arrived, she was sitting up straight, rocking back and forth and whimpering. That image breaks my heart every time. “It’s OK. Mummy’s here,’’ I say, instantly going into auto pilot. I know the drill. I know what’s to come, how to manage it and when it will end.
She twirls around in her bed, like a dog chasing its tail. I quietly ask her to lie down with me. “I don’t want to,’’ she says through tears. I ask her if she’d like a cuddle. She looks straight through me, shakes her head and even more tears fall. “What would you like?’’ I ask. She shakes her head again and then begins rocking back and forth. I put my hand on her back to pat her, but it only prompts her to do another circle. By now, I should know better than to try and touch her.
“Let’s lie down,’’ I insist again and so she does. I run my fingers through her hair, hoping it will calm her. The whimpering stops. Then, as quickly as it stopped, it starts again. This time the wails are loud and long. It prompts her dad to come in.
We know the drill. This is where it ends. The sound of both our voices telling her it’s OK instantly calms her and the beast that has taken over her body disappears. She lies down and within a matter of seconds is as peaceful as… umm, oh dear, I can’t think of anything. Gee, a girl knows how to ruin the moment, doesn’t she?
Anyway… Night terrors, unlike nightmares, happen earlier in the night. From experience, they tend to happen for Ella when she’s overtired or consumed too much sugar in one day. Thankfully, she has no recollection of these episodes the next morning. For that, we’re grateful. We also have no reasoning why it takes both our voices to calm her so instantly. But it does. Every time.
Do your children experience night terrors? What works to calm your child?