Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fear Factor

Last night Madeline clung to her daddy begging him not to leave her side at bedtime.

“Scared,” out little Klingon told him.

“What are you scared of?” we both asked.

“The bumblebee. See it?” She pointed to the ceiling where the imaginary creepy-crawly must have been buzzing around.

I responded by swatting the menacing insect away and then pretending to catch it and squish it in my hands a la the classic kids’ song “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee,” a song I used to sing with my mom.

Dave’s approach was probably a tad smarter. He simply told her that bumblebees don’t live in houses. “They live outside and they don’t usually bother people,” he informed.

She seemed to accept his explanation and reluctantly let him leave. (In truth, she asked to be carried to her bedroom door, kissed good night and then returned to her bed, once again being carried in his arms.)

Madeline cuddled up against me as I peacefully nursed Baby Rae. All was well. Until we began hearing the low growl of thunder in the distance.

“Thunder?” she asked.

“God and the angels are bowling,” I told her.

“Oh.” She wasn’t buying it, not for a minute.

We were quiet for a few minutes, resting in the darkness and hearing the thunder creep closer and closer. Then Rachel Marie, who had finished her bedtime snack, began refluxing and gurgling like someone with pneumonia. Breast milk came out her nose and mouth and she began to wail.

I told Madeline I needed to hand over her baby sister to Daddy, so he could hold her upright and prevent the milk geyser from erupting. “Stay right here. I’ll be right back.”

“Nooooooo,” she begged. “I scared of the thunder.”

“It’s just God bowling,” I reminded her.

“I don’t like God bowling,” she said, lips trembling, eyes brimming with tears.


“Alright, come with me.”

So I made the baby exchange with Madeline hovering closer than my own shadow and then was able to return to her big-girl bed sans refluxing 7-week-old and help her drift asleep despite God’s raucous bowling.

I admit: I considered leaving her alone to face the bumblebees and thunder on her own, so I could finally crack the spine of the seventh Harry Potter book. But alas, she needed Mommy close by to eliminate the fear factor, and her qualms with bees and booms in the sky, as silly and irrational as they may seem to me, were genuine. Harry would have to wait.

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