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Night Terrors & Helplessness

As I write this it’s Wednesday night.

Last night my son had his first “night terror.”

He’d sleep walked before, resulting in us simply re-directing him to his pallet of awesomeness bedness.

Only this time was different.

He’d spent the day dealing with a 104 temperature. We’d alternated Tylenol and Ibuprofin throughout the day keeping him at a solid 101 to 100.5 temp. Fluids were pumping and he slept like a champ.

Around 6 p.m. Chicago got beat-down by a strong band of storms that left us huddled in our basements waiting for the all-clear.

Then sleep came.

And all was calm and normal.

At 1:30ish a.m. I heard a bang!

I’m a light sleeper. A door could slam three blocks away and after many beers I’d still sit straight up trying to assess the situation.

I walked into the daughter’s room and found her slowly crawling into bed. She’d performed her nightly “I have my father’s genes and clumsily fall out of bed” routine and was recouping.

I checked on the boy who’d been dealing with a high fever all week. And he was burning up.

That’s when I made the parental rookie mistake.

I tried to wake him up enough to take his temperature and that’s when it happened!

His eyes opened.

Pupils as black as night and covering every millimeter of those amazing hazel eyes I’ve grown to cherish.

He looked at me as though I were the devil. His eyes pierced my sockets as though he could see through the back of my skull.

He kicked violently to get free of his covers as his arms shook and his voice quivered to find the words to say, “no….no…I’m OK…I’m OK..just give me a minute, I’m OK!!!!”

Still not registering for a second I believe he’s worried I’m going to give him shitty tasting medicine but it quickly becomes clear that’s nowhere near his concern.

I’m there to guide him to harm.

The wife walks in at this point and holds him tight only for him to wrestle free. Meanwhile I leave to go get a cold cloth to place on his head – an old trick I used to do when he was a baby to calm him back to sleep.


It was like placing hot coals on his skin.

He erupted in screams like someone was slowly stabbing him and we were the culprits.

Helplessness filled the eyes that I threw upon the wife in desperation for some type of guidance.

And I got nothing.

We were both trapped in this brand-new world of helplessness , together.

The last time I’d experienced it I was alone. I was watching the wife enter hour 3 of labor, trying her damndest to welcome into the world the very child we’re now comforting.

I then made the decision to call 911.

Five minutes later a policewoman showed up.

Her eyes darted throughout the house searching for wrong-doing, as she record our names, and our son’s names. My daughter was peeking out from under her security blanket as she huddled in the corner of the couch.

Upstairs my son had snapped-out of the terror and finally woken up.

By the time I’d reached the last step I could see his charm, whit, love of human interaction slowly winning the paramedics and policewoman over leaving me humbled and feeling like I’ve wasted valuable time.

I profusely apologized to the paramedics and police.

I hugged my son.

An hour after everyone left and we rested our heads on pillows again, the boy woke into yet another terror. Only, this time we knew better how to comfort him and work him through it until he finally put his head on his pillow going back to sleep.

I then spent the rest of the night with the wife making sure he never left our consciousness as we half-slept in shifts through the remaining 1.5 hours of night.

And when the sun rose I was on my back.


I’m so lucky.

I cannot imagine living the life of parents dealing with children inflicted with diseases, syndromes, etc… that keep them from living any type of life that could be considered normal.

I am humbled by them.

My heart aches for them.

And I’m thankful.