There are few things more compelling than a frightened child calling you in the middle of the night. If you know you can help and you know you can get there in seconds, you will surprise yourself with how quickly you can move. My 3-year-old son cried out and said there were monsters in his room. He was running a fever and is normally a happy, confident child who sleeps through the night. If he gets up in the middle of the night, it’s to party and laugh; this time it was different.
I went in, held him and stroked his face. I said, “Where’s the monster?” When you are frightened, the last thing you want someone to do is tell you your fears are baseless. He pointed at the wall toward the foot of his bottom bunk. I said, “Ah, I see. Do you know what those monsters want?” “What?” he asked. I said, “Those monsters want ice cream. You tell them your daddy won’t let them have ice cream and they will go away.”
He gazed up at me and smiled perhaps the warmest smile I have ever seen in my life. He touched my face. I said, “Daddys know how to keep monsters away.” He nestled in, went back to sleep and slept through the rest of the night. I was touched by his belief in me.
My own thinking was, “Let him know his fears are real, let him know the threat is not interested in him, and then let him know someone else will deal with the fallout.”
Be bold, be authentic, be masculine, and reassure those you love they are not alone.