Of dreams, nightmares and fears
“You are not finished yet?” I ask wondering how much longer she needs to brush her teeth. It is now almost half an hour since she started.
“Well, kind of” she says in a sorrowful voice. Once in a while we have these phases where brushing teeth takes ages and going to bed takes a whole different meaning.
“I don’t want to go to bed” she says looking straight in the mirror.
“We are not discussing this” I tell her. I straighten my shoulders and squint my eyes in what would definitely make Putin and his clan proud.
She doesn’t move.
“Why don’t you want to go to bed?” I ask against my better judgment. I know her kind of answers.
‘I’m not sleepy!’ is the standard one. That one is usually followed by an even more convincing one; ‘I swear I’m not tired!’ said in a high pitched tone with the words stressed and eyes wide open for dramatic effect.
But today is different. She just stands there and doesn’t say anything which makes me suspicious and throws me off my script.
“I’m going to count to three!” I threaten. This one always works with her little brother. She looks up at me and this time I notice something else. She is in tears.
I do what any self-respecting parent would do. I grab her hand and walk her up the stairs.
“Only kids who sleep enough grow!” I tell her. She doesn’t say anything. Her little brother would be nodding his agreement.
I’m about to switch the lights off when she jumps off the bed and grabs my hand.
“I can’t sleep here.” She says in a voice that is both urgent and desperate.
“Why not?” I ask hardly able to hide my irritation. It is not the fact that she is scared but the ramble that leaves me dead on my tracks.
She’s scared of the woman whose dead husband made Spaghetti; she’s scared of the dead old man who went and saved his granddaughter during a tornado; she’s scared of the stewardess who warned a passenger of an impending crash by changing her seat.
“Where did you hear all these?” I ask her my mouth agape.
“From x-factor!” she says simply in a way only a kid can.
“That is all made up. It is not true.” I tell her and make a mental note to never let her watch TV again until her 60th birthday.
“What about that Malaysian flight? Is that all made up?” she asks.
“Well” I start and then realize that I don’t know what to say. A plane flying for more than eight hours possibly in the wrong direction without anyone finding out is the kind of stuff I wish was pure fiction.
“Do you get scared sometimes?” she asks.
I hold her and for the next moments, I don’t say anything. I want to tell her all the things I’m terrified of; my fear of failing as a parent, my fear of the consequences of speaking up, my fear of not reaching my potential, my fear of feeling helpless, my fear of taking the wrong exit on the Autobahn and landing somewhere in Azerbaijan never to be found again.
She looks up at me and in that moment I realize something. Something that I know deep in my heart to be true.
There is only one thing I’m truly afraid of; waking up someday and finding out that I was a prisoner of fear.