Monsters under the bed

We had a discussion last night about how in a couple of weeks, after her 7th birthday, she would really need to start sleeping in her own room. She has made several failed attempts but somehow the monsters under the bed have been relentless in their pursuit of little girls and she sleeps with us, legs flung across my belly.

I leave home before she wakes up. On most days I don’t see her again till 8 at night and I can’t put myself in her position, even though my memories go as far back as the time when I was three years old. I remember things with great clarity and haven’t forgotten how it is to be a child, not yet. But I don’t know what it’s like to not have one’s mom around all the time.

On certain occasions, I remember how a band of pressure used to build up right across the bridge of the nose and then spread to the eyelids before the deluge of tears started. I remember how easy it was to cry, for awhile…for a few years… and then how much of an effort it took to learn how not to cry…in later years, despite the unbearable pressure on the bridge of the nose and the eyelids.

Last night I insisted that she should start thinking about sleeping in her own room after September 17th. She told me she would try but introduced a contingency whereby if she got scared she would still have the option to come back to our room. I held my ground, saying that coming back to our room wasn’t an option because she is a big girl now and because she knows there are no monsters and no nameless scary things in her room. I saw her staring straight ahead for sometime and then I knew at once that she was feeling that familiar pressure…sure enough tears were just a fraction of an instant away.

I am realizing now that I can’t bear to see her cry, there is no force as powerful as her tears, as far as I’m concerned. I am always ready to give her the world, if she so desires, but her tears would always make me give it to her sooner.

I know it isn’t because of some misplaced sense of guilt I feel about not being around too much and I know she can learn about this power she has over me; kids are good at developing formulas of the nature: tears = rewards, but I react this way because I am convinced about her inherent gentleness. I see qualities in her that I never possessed.

In many ways, I see myself in her; I see a younger me. There are some very familiar signs…only… she is not me…she is so much better, someone with a heart of gold as her teacher insists. There is so much innocence, such gentleness, such fierce intelligence and creativity in those twinkling eyes that it breaks my heart if I ever see tears brimming over those eyelids.

So, I relented, of course. I told her she could come back and sleep with us if her room got too scary for her. I wiped her tears away and asked her to smile.

She gave me a bright smile but said, “I don’t know what it is about tears, mommy. They just don’t stop once they start coming. I am not sad now, I’m happy…but tears are funny. Sometimes they just don’t stop.”

I told her I knew exactly what she meant.


  1. What a beautiful post! Can relate to most of it, although the "moving out" step is yet far, for us. But you're right, it's remarkable how they take us in completely so often by their gentleness, and innocence, and at other times, they're like these knowing little devils, who use any opportunity they get to shred us thin! I know exactly what you mean when you say you can discern when she's using her tear-power and when she isn't. Moms are perceptive that way 🙂 Hugs for you and her and here's to keeping those monsters at bay!

  2. A lovely post. Dhanno is 15, and she still keeps her options open about coming back to our room.

  3. I tried putting my name, but didn't seem to get through, so setttled on "anonymous". The link was not faulty. If it doesn't work, cut down to the root URL and take it from there.

  4. Ah tears. I never did learn to control mine. To this day, it doesn't take much to unleash them. My daughter has inherited this tendency, and classically, instead of making me more sympathetic, it sometimes makes me less so. Bursting into tears at dinner because the 1/2" piece of sauteed zuchini I made her taste was so horrible only resulted in my laughter. And a little guilt. OK, we said, you tried it, you don't have to have anymore. Yet her tears of real pain after surgery had me clenching my hands and trying to figure out anyway to stop her tears.

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