That one word can waken me from a sound slumber quicker than any alarm clock in the world. The same was true of my mother and untold other mothers out there. We seem to have little radars that tune into that magic word, or in the case of an infant, their cries. I recall being the little one who woke up from a bad dream and ran to Mama. I remember my dad checking under my bed and my closets for monsters. I had nightlights and often a sibling in the same room, but none of that mattered when I had a nightmare. I ran with all my might to my mother’s bedside, for there lay safety. When I got a bit older, my mother taught me prayers to say, and when even that wasn’t enough, she invoked a bit of maternal
lying creativity. She told me that my stuffed animals would keep all the monsters and nightmares away because I loved them and they loved me. Problem solved. Of course, this also meant I slept with an army of stuffed animals, but hey, it worked.
My kids are not particularly enamored of stuffed animals. Oh they play with a few now and again, but more often Zeke snags them at some point and they become his chew toy. I adored mine well past the current ages of my kids, in fact requesting my parents keep them stored for my one-day-children-to-be when I went off to college. It took a few years of them tearing them apart and neglecting them for me to part with them. A few were too ragged for anything but the garbage bin. For those that still had some snuggles left in them, I donated them to the daycare which my kids attended. However, there were a handful that I kept for myself as they held too many memories to let go. There’s a threadbare Raggedy Ann with only one leg, an owl whose glass eyes have enough scratches to mimic cataracts, a pillow-rabbit that my great-grandmother made for me, and among others, Boo-Bear. Boo-Bear was a gift from one of my aunts when I was born and it became my constant companion through toddler-hood. Boo-Bear reigned as king of my bedroom’s stuffed minions for eighteen years. Given how much I played with him, he’s in surprisingly good shape, even if he is a bit worn here and there.
My kids don’t often have nightmares. Miss Diva and Mr. Smarty-Pants haven’t come running to my room in quite some time. Miss Drama, however, has had a few bad dreams, and one night when she claimed she didn’t want to go to sleep because she might have bad dreams, I remembered what my mother did. Only I had something even better than just any stuffed animal, I had Boo-Bear, a tried and true warrior! I pulled him off the shelf and explained how I’d had him since I was a baby. I told her that he chased bad dreams away by saying, “BOO!” His shirt, a faded orange felt-like material with the word “BOO” printed on it, confirmed my claim. After all, I was all grown up, so he must have done his job. I tucked her in with the bear and she fell right to sleep.
I reclaimed him after a bit, as I didn’t want him to become Zeke’s newest chew toy. Last night Miss Drama woke me with a teary, “Mommy? I had a bad dream.”
I mumbled something about nightlights as I gave her a hug and ordered brain cells to function. She had a nightlight already, and I learned the hard way that if you let kids in your bed, it takes an eternity and a lock to keep them out. My fuzzy brain remembered Boo-Bear and got him off the shelf. I tucked her back into bed with Boo-Bear and she uttered not a single protesting peep about going back to sleep. A picture that’s floated around Facebook sums it up: