Yes, I am referring to “Thriller,” the 1983 Michael Jackson thirteen-minute music video where zombies and werewolves stalk a young woman in heels.
(I’m using a cartoon instead of a real pic from the video in case she comes across the article when she’s older and has realized her mom talks about her on the internet. I don’t want her to relapse and come home from college to get in my bed)
It’s close to midnight and something small and terrified is lurking by my bed. It’s my seven year-old. She’s been showing up every night ‘round this hour for a month, since I was dumb enough to let her watch the Thriller video.
Sure, this is an example of my sub-par parenting, but to be fair, there was a reason we introduced her to the iconic Thriller video. The dance is notorious and delicious and has been done by flash mobs and mass groups of prisoners and students alike, and this Halloween, by my son’s fifth grade class. SO we were showing his little sister what the hype was about, and now she‘s terrified to pee alone, and cannot sleep in her own damned bed.
Sure, love, I’ll come with you to the bathroom even when there’s the foulest stench in the air. And, please don’t be afraid of your dog. He’s still just your big, dumb greyhound, not one of the hounds of hell. Come on, child, get in. Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah, (fine) all through the night.
And husband? I do have a soul for getting down, but it’s just gonna have to wait until there’s not a kid in our bed, ooh, ooh, yeah. Sigh.
Where did we go wrong? You know it’s thriller!
I’ve tried everything to help her sleep through the night- weighted blankets, comforting music, ALL the nightlights, talking about the fears, walking through the realities and fantasies of all the scary critters that aren’t there and how safe our house is. When I gave her Melatonin, she said, “OK, BUT IF THIS MAKES ME TOO SLEEPY YOU’LL HAVE TO WAKE ME UP TO COME GET IN YOUR BED WHEN IT’S TIME,” and that night she managed to make her way into our bed by 10:30pm, before we were even in it, SO, I’d say that was a miss.
When darkness falls across the land and the midnight hour is close at hand, she’s there, wedged in between my husband and me, snoring. Not exactly terrorizing our neighborhood, but not exactly NOT, either.
Lesson learned. She’s a creative and sensitive little imp and we need to be more careful with the horror-themed pop music she consumes. She keeps apologizing for the fear, for her extra clinginess, and we keep reassuring her that we all have fears, that fear of the dark is normal, as it feels uncertain and unknown, that it’s normal to worry and to feel off-balanced when you don’t have all your senses, that we’ve got her, no matter what. The last thing we want is for her to be ashamed of her feelings, of her fear. We reassure her that telling us about it and asking for help is brave. She is seeing a counselor at school for emotional support, and they’re reading books about a mouse named Timmy who draws his nightmares to tame them, so we’re trying that, too…so upon my fridge hang a whole lotta bad drawings of MJ right now.
And, please, if you have suggestions on how to help her sleep through the night and work through the fears, I’ll take it. Our bed is made to the exact specifications of a royal lady and is struggling to hold all three of us comfortably. Every night, I’m hopeful she’ll sleep through in her own bed, but every night, I feel the cold hand and hear a creature creeping up behind.
Dammit, Thriller, it’s almost Thanksgiving, please stop thrilling.