My daughter awoke last night screaming. Of course this woke up her brother who sleeps a few feet away, and he added his voice to the cacophony. As my wife and I settled them down, my daughter relayed that she had just experienced a bad dream in which a man in her bed was eating her. My heart cried at this. This is one of those pieces of growing up in which I am relegated to the sidelines during the action. I can jump in afterwards and hold her, calm her, and help her deal. During the ordeal, however, I am not and cannot be there.
This evening, the topic of nighttime came up again, and she asked, “What if he comes back tonight?”
In a stroke of what hopefully is brilliance, I answered, “Well if he is eating you he must be hungry. Let’s help him by making a pretend sandwich and some other food that you can give him.” 
“Yeah, let’s pour him some pretend juice,” my daughter added. She always wants a glass of juice, a treat we have when friends visit or she visits friends.
“Maybe his is sick, too,” I added thinking of the winter flu that the family has suffered through and my daughter’s belief that medicine will make everything better. Through dinner and before bath, we fleshed out this idea, and after bath we created a whole kit for the man should he arrive tonight. My daughter loves helping people, so turning this into a situation in which she has power to help might just allow her to deal with it.
I hope it works for my daughter’s sake, and I hope it works for all the rest of our sakes, too!

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