The Red Frog Nightmare

Red Frog

Every now and then, the nightmare factory sends my son a humdinger. Tuesday night, Liev woke us up shouting “I have a bad dream! I have a bad dream!” I slogged to his room to cuddle him back to sleep. With the hysteria only a four-year-old can muster, he proclaimed:

“You know what’s the worst nightmare? A frog with three colors—green, red and black. Red is the worst color because it means stop. And I don’t want to stop!”

I expected monsters, farm animals, or even a birthday party to be the subject of his nightmare, not a colored frog. I reminded myself that dreams don’t need to make sense to be horrifying. We banished his toy frog to the laundry room and I settled him down to sleep. In minutes, his breathing became regular. Yay!  Five minutes later, he rolled over. Five more minutes passed. Even with my eyes closed, I sensed him staring at me inquisitively. I opened my eyes. He informed me:

“You know, all frogs are not bad. Just the ones with red on them…”

I had many options. Being me, I did a statistical analysis of previous nightmare incidents. I included Liev’s distress, time of morning and my need for sleep as variables. I decided to give him five more minutes of cuddles and let him read himself to sleep. I miscalculated. An hour later, I hovered on the jerky borderland of sleep. The knocking began.

“It’s time to wake up, guys. It’s already light outside. It’s time to wake up!”

Our little rooster had spied the first glimmer of dawn at 4:30. I had to admit, despite the bad dreams and early hour, Liev was impeccably polite. Papa took him back to his room as I feigned sleep. At 5:30, Liev returned.

“Guys! It’s time to get up! Guys! It’s very light outside.”
“Mama…Mama, I’ve read all the books in my room. It’s time to get up.”

Thus, our day started. I cooked French toast and Liev read science books. Liev remained angelic and sweet all morning, and to my surprise, after school as well. At 6:50 pm,  he conked out, snuggled next to me on the couch. His resilience and good humor surprised and pleased me. If only I could grasp that courage at will. I would have slept better that night.

I was too tired to sleep. Insomnia usually starts with my brain grinding in obsessive, doomed circles. Wednesday night, my body felt twitchy and restive. My blood prickled as if it wanted to escape and whirl around in a margarita machine. Pacing did not help and even the Weather Channel did not soothe me. I considered Temple Grandin’s squeezing machine. Perhaps I could invent a spinning gadget to propel me into tranquility. I vividly imagined the device but lamented my inability to make one quiet enough to use at home.

At last, I decided to visit Cute Overload. If your mind is filled with fuzzy goodness, eventually your body has to relax. Then I hit upon the ultimate relaxer:

I adore Simon’s Cat. The simple line drawings and kitty mischief are a balm to the soul. I made it back to bed around midnight and had monochrome kitty dreams.

Photo Red Frog by Etai Adam. 

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