My son has recently started dreaming. Actually, I would say he has always dreamt, but now he acts them out much more emphatically. He twists and turns and yelps and mutters and jolts and you get the picture. I wonder what he dreams about. I used to think (since he was always smiling) that he dreamt about milk – lots and lots of it. Now I would have to include cars, trains and gelato (or giallolo as he likes to call it). When, though, should I expect the Boogeyman to show up?
I can’t really recall when he showed up when I was growing up. I do, though, remember building the stuffed animal fortresses around me in bed or leaping into bed to avoid the hand that I was sure was going to reach out and grab me from below. My best bodyguard was Big Ted a stuffed teddy bear that was worn by my sister and my affection over the years. I would have him by side in bed and always make sure that he was between the closet and me.
I also had two sets of cultural Boogeymen to deal with (Latin and Anglo-Saxon), as well as a vast library of children’s books on the subject such as Where The Wild Things Are, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet and most of the untouched-by-Disney Brother Grimm tales. The only book, though, that I found often mixed into my dreams because it was itself a far-fetched dream sequence as well as a kid’s dream of baked goods was Sendak’s In The Night Kitchen (and to this day is one of my favorite children’s books) in which the cooks acted like Boogeymen. In my dreams I can vaguely remember not only escaping, but turning the tables on them.
I can’t say that I was really scared by any of these books, but they certainly did not lend credence to my mother’s assurances that there was no such thing as the Boogeyman or monsters under my bed or in my closet. On occasion I would, in fact, crawl into bed with my folks or wake up my older sister so she could share in my misery as the night shadows turned into fantastical creatures looking to make a midnight snack out of me.
I hope my son keeps smiling and laughing in his sleep, but if he must think of monsters I hope he gets the better of them like Max or unmasks them as scaredy-cats like the ones hiding in the closet.