When I tuck my four-year-old son into bed every night, I repeat the same thing my mother always said to me at bedtime, “Happy dreams.”
But recently, my son told me that he never has happy dreams. He has always been a good sleeper and other than the obligatory asking for a glass of water, he has never had problems going to bed. So when he said he only had bad dreams, I was very surprised.
But it’s when he describes his dreams that I get upset. His nightmares go from the classic, dreams about falling, to the heartbreaking, dreams about being hit by a truck. His surreal dream-scapes really freak me out, “There is a scary puddle with a face that turns into a monster,” and “A monster swallowed a balloon.” When I ask why this is scary, he tells me, “Because the monster is choking.”
It is bad enough that he has nothing but terrifying dreams, but the biggest monsters in his dreams are his parents. I can hear myself yelling at him:
“Don’t climb up there, you’ll fall!”
” Do not step in the street!”
” You better not run through that puddle!”
” Do not leave balloons on the ground; your baby sister could choke to death!”
His nightmares don’t seem to affect his sleep, but should I be concerned that he doesn’t have sweet dreams and that my anxieties seem to be the inspiration for his bad dreams?