“I don’t want to close my eyes” my son says as I tuck him in. He says it every night. He doesn’t want the day to end. He’s had too much fun, excitement, he has enjoyed the day. I lay with him every night; hold his hand till he falls asleep. Some nights it only takes 2 minutes, but others it takes upwards of 15 before he finally lets go of the day and falls deep asleep. He has made it a great day!
He’s not afraid of the night or sleeping. He’s afraid of the day ending. He was able to play with is sister, his friends, and of course his dad. He was able to walk around our neighborhood. In some aspect, be on his own without me over his shoulder. Simply, he just didn’t want his fun day to end. For in his eyes, there is no way possible way the next day could be better than today.
As he falls asleep, I think of his words to me. After “I love you.” After “thank you for a fun day.” After “goodnight.” All I hear repeating in my mind is “I don’t want to close my eyes.” It is then I realize how familiar those words are.
As that replays in my ears I can’t help but relate that to my own combat experiences. His words make me think about my brothers and sisters that struggle with post-traumatic stress and how they deal with sleep, or as my son puts it: “bed time.”
The innocence of a child makes it pretty clear. In his eyes he is probably thinking: “Why must today end? I was having so much fun!”
But for some of us, the night brings very different thoughts. Such as; “How will I get some sleep tonight?” Or; “I can’t go another day without sleeping. But I am afraid to sleep.” Some of us scream in our heads; “I just want to sleep!!” But we can’t. Not like a child, this is what we really want.
Why? Because of the terrible nightmares some of us experience. Those of us with post-traumatic stress understand how difficult it is to fall asleep, let alone have a night without nightmares. Or how we wish to sleep straight through the night! Some of us wish we could fall asleep and sleep peacefully without medication.
We are more afraid of the night than we are of the challenges of a new day. The night is usually full of terrors and demons. Not to mention our dreams/nightmares give us no promise or hopes for a brighter day tomorrow.
Whether or not you are a parent, I believe you must accept the innocence of a child. Perhaps it’s not the night we truly fear. I believe we can make a subconscious effort to defeat what threatens us during our dreams. I tell my children, “Think of happy things before you go to bed.” Simple enough, right?
Maybe, it’s the new day we fear. Not being in the military we can no longer control what lies ahead. We are afraid that something will happen that we cannot handle! But in all honesty, we know in our hearts that is not true. But we can control out attitude. The only thing you are ever in control of is your attitude. That my friends, is simple. What’s stopping you from being positive? What’s stopping you from being as innocent as a child?
Oh you had to wait too long for coffee in the morning? Traffic light took too long to turn green? Yeah, that must have sucked!
I think we each of us should take a lesson from a 4 year old. Be hesitant to say goodbye to the day. However, as adults, regardless of our situation, be grateful for each new day we receive. And accept the day as a gift.
Make it a great day!!