Fearing bad guys

We’re dealing with nightmares now.  Actually, no, maybe not quite nightmares yet, but recurring fears that are keeping Wildling up at night, and waking her from her dreams.

Yesterday we had a playdate with a friend, who told me that someone had broken into her car.  “A bad guy did it,” her four-year-old added not-so-helpfully.  Now Wildling is afraid of the bad guy who broke into the car.  I can see that would be a realistic fear for a child, because damage was done and things were stolen, and the nebulous ‘bad guy’ can be a scary concept.  But no amount of arguing can get her to see that the bad guy isn’t here.  I told her she needs to try to think only about good things, but she tells me “Mama, I can’t change my thinks.”

She’s also afraid of the bad guy on “PBS-kids-on-Television”  (she says it like that to differentiate between that and the PBS Kids branded games she has played on the ipad).  She doesn’t watch tv at our house, ever.  We aren’t big television watchers (but, full disclosure, I do watch every season of Project Runway online), and we decided before Wildling was born that we would do no television before age two.  Of course, my mother interpreted that as ‘on Wildling’s second birthday, we will immediately turn on the television set and introduce her to everything amazing and awesome thing that we had so cruelly deprived her of and we will begin watching tv all of the time,’ which of course did not happen.  But that’s an unnecessary digression. Suffice to say, despite my mother’s expectations, we do not have cable, satellite, or even an antenna to bring television programming into our home…but…

…Wildling spent the night at Will’s parents’ last night, and they thought it would be ok to watch some tv with her.  They’ve done it before with no problems (though Will’s mother was horribly disappointed around the winter holidays when Wildling didn’t like the traditional Rudolph movie), and they justified their actions by only turning on ‘PBS-kids-on-Television.’  Unfortunately, there was a bad guy, maybe a witch (?) that was destroying everything.  And now Wildling is scared of that bad guy as well.  She was crying tonight that she doesn’t like PBS-Kids-on-Television and she doesn’t want to see it anymore and maybe the bad guy is here.  

She’s a sensitive kid.  At school one of the teachers was reading the Three Little Pigs, and Wildling just sat in the back and cried because the wolf is scary.  We have to skip pages in some of her books, if something is scary or sad, or if a character is described as mean. Will used to talk about getting the real Grim’s Fairy Tales for her, you know, the original versions where everyone dies in the end rather than the cleaned-up modern happy endings.  I think I’m going to have to exercise a permanent veto on that. 

I try to put a positive and happy spin on things, but I worry sometimes that all the bad she will eventually encounter in this world will be too much for her sensitive spirit.  If I could keep her home and safe and away from all the scary things and mean things, I would, though eventually I would go insane myself from being cooped up with such a sensitive and needy (and loud!) child. 

I’m not sure what to do with her right now, other than send her back to bed with her stuffed animals and her nightlight and her assurances that her parents love her no matter what. 


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