Nightmares

Two days after we returned from our trip to Disneyland Hong Kong, my son announced that he no longer liked Disney.

This, coming from one who managed to get his grandparents onto cable TV because he wanted to watch Playhouse Disney; who pesters his mum to buy him Disney’s Clubhouse magazine; who knew before any of the adults that Playhouse was rebranding to Disney Jr.; who constantly refers to the theme park maps we’d saved from our previous trip to Disneyland Anaheim; who had studied the Disneyland Hong Kong map long before we got there.

The reason: he’d had two Disney nightmares each for two consecutive nights.

One nightmare he recounted had Mickey Mouse shouting at bad guy, Pete; Mickey’s loud voice scared him. Another had Bambi fighting with a hunter. A third was about Goofy. And I can’t remember what the last was about, but essentially his lovable Disney characters had turned “bad” and scary.

“Disney overload” was all people could suggest to us. Two days in Disneyland HK was apparently overkill. Then, our son had watched the Golden Mickey stage show twice and had gone on to ask how each of the Disney characters knew one another. His Mummy’s not-so-good simplified explanation had him going through the list of all the Disney cartoon characters he knew – which is almost every single one – in order that he could classify them into Mickey’s old vs. new friends.

For almost a month, he refused to touch any of his Disney toys and books. He agreed that we could cancel the Disney cable channel and willingly wanted to give away his Disney cartoon videos and music CDs.

In my impatience for him to just “get over it”, I tried to explain the cause of nightmares as too much pizza or excitement during the day, particularly too much crazy running and screaming just before bed. Then we had pizza one night, and my son who usually loves his pizza was hesitant to eat it, for fear it might cause him to have nightmares. I spent a long time convincing him that “too much” meant 100 pizzas, not 1 or 2 or 10… “How about 15 pizzas, Mama?” “No, eating 15 pizzas won’t cause nightmares; and anyway, you’d never eat 15 pizzas.” Or would he? What if they were really tiny pizzas? What is the cut-off for too much pizza anyway???!

Thankfully, he’s started being open again to the mention of Disney. But not without insisting every night that Mum and Dad – and Grandma, who also came to know of this – pray for him.

It’s getting better. The other day, he said, “Mummy, I like Disney again.” We are now allowed to talk about our trips to Disneyland and he no longer shirks from his Disney toy-friends as if they were the plague.

Some good things have come out of this:

  • My son has learnt fervent prayer. Now even while I’m praying for him, I hear him uttering under his breath. Sometimes when I’m done before he is and unknowing start talking to him, he almost tells me off in reply that he’s still praying.
  • He has now some concept of what it means to be an “Overcomer, like Joseph in the Bible”. Sure, he’s still a little afraid, but at least he can feel proud of himself the next morning when he awakes and declares that he’s had a good sleep and no nightmares.
  • We can save money! Since he’s no longer as crazy about Disney and that was about the only thing he’s really onto, we don’t get bugged to buy him stuff.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Wikipedia says that “eating before going to sleep, which triggers an increase in the body’s metabolism and brain activity, is a potential stimulus for nightmares.”

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