The past week, Summer has ben waking up in the middle of the night having had bad dreams. I could tell because she would be crying and shaking, clinging tight to me and not wanting to go back to bed. This happened three nights within the last week and started when one rainy night, it thundered so loud, even I got a little scared. Kayo and I did what we could to comfort her but it would take some time before she could calm down. It was difficult because her loud cries would wake Emma and put her in a foul mood too. We would sing to Summer, pray aloud for her and just stay up with her until she got comfortable enough to go back to sleep.
While at a book fair last weekend, I chanced upon two small bedtime prayer books for kids and instantly thought of getting them for Summer. I thought the illustrations are cute and they were also cheap at 75 pesos each so buying them was a no brainer.
That night, I read the books to her in a prayerful manner, teaching her how to clasp both hands together and to close her eyes just like the children in the book. She pointed out the moon, the stars and the angels who guard us day and night. She even named the different animals soundly sleeping. I think she enjoyed the books. As a matter of fact, I did too. We’ve been reading those prayer books every night and she hasn’t had a nightmare since.
The books really helped but I think it’s really praying with her that did it. I must confess that lately, I have been very lax about saying bedtime prayers with her. Most nights, after a book or two, I turn off the lights and just try to keep her in bed until she’s gotten tired of fighting sleep. The goal is to get her to keep still and doze off as soon as possible. It’s almost like a wrestling match, really. (Every parent must know how putting kids to sleep is like the hardest thing ever!) I had taken for granted the importance of teaching her how to pray by praying with her. I had also taken for granted the ability of prayer and a peaceful time together before bedtime to calm down an over active toddler and keep her sound asleep through the night.
Summer is not scared of the dark and the only monsters she knows are the funny ones from Monsters Inc, which she likes. But whatever scary things taunt her in her sleep at night, we can help avoid by making sure she has a pleasant bedtime ritual. Prayer, I now fully realize, and her knowing she is never alone, is a big part of it. I’m convinced this experience was meant to remind me about all that. Even I, when experiencing fear or uncertainty, find peace and security in praying to God. Who am I to say He is not capable of doing the same for a toddler having unpleasant dreams?
Last night, after Summer and Emma have quietly gone to sleep, I made this artwork with them in mind. (I also just got my first calligraphy set so I’ve been itching to use them!) It’s an old poem but a very simple and beautiful bedtime prayer. I made it for the girls but also to remind me to always call on the Lord to guard me and my family day and night.
I pray that you, too, have a good and peaceful night’s rest. Don’t forget to say your prayers! Sleep tight!