Getting out of my daughter’s room when putting her to bed at night requires special forces training. She can sense the end of the book coming and she turns into a spider monkey clinging to anything she can get her little claws around. The moment that last page is turned she goes pro wrestler, climbing on top of me and holding on to my shoulders and head. I start my escape using moves a contortionist would be proud of. It’s like working my way out of a straight jacket. Once I have successfully peeled her off my head and back it’s time to stuff her under the covers. I mean this quite literally. As her limbs come flying out from beneath the sheets, I stuff them back in until they stop escaping. Luckily she is already fairly tired from the wrestling match so the flailing doesn’t last too long.
Then comes the psychological warfare. She looks me right in the eye with that weepy look and says “I’m scared Mommy.” She’s got me where she wants me. I can’t tell her not to be scared, it’s an emotion. That would be like giving her a stuffed animal and then telling her not to be happy. And if I tell her there is nothing to be afraid of I open the door to a conversation about the five hundred things in her room that are scary once the lights go out. I do not have the fortitude for an explanation of why shadows cannot in fact hurt her. Luckily I am skilled in the art of manipulation and have a response for this form of attack. I tell her “I know honey. But you are brave too. I will come check on you in a few minutes.” I kiss her on the forehead and back out of the room.
Some nights I need to tell her she is brave a few times and some nights I need to reassure her that I will actually check on her in a few minutes. Tonight her response is “Make sure you check on me more than once because last night you only checked on me once.” I replied “Oh honey, you only saw me once. I’m really good at checking on you without you noticing.” I’m not sure if this is the look of defeat or disbelief, but I’m putting it in the “Mom wins” file.