The first bellow of ‘Mama’ wakes me up. Not quickly, but in a slowly pulling apart the eyelids, while dreading the idea of having to remove myself from the cozy sheets sort of way. It is the second scream that announces that this is no usual midnight milk run. The girl’s yelps are sharp and unusual, and I can feel the fear in her voice.
It is on the third shriek which comes close after the second that I pull my lacklustre body out of bed and plod towards my daughter’s bedroom.
Upon entering the little lady’s boudoir, I find her pressed tightly up against her beds headboard repeating the mantra, “I hate those cwabs, I hate those cwabs…” over and over again.
“What’s wrong, Sophie?” I ask, all of the sudden feeling overly concerned for her wellbeing although I still can’t make out what she is saying.
“Mama!” She looks and sounds relieved to see me (which makes me feel pretty good, despite the circumstances).
“I hate this cwab in my bed. … He needs to go home.” My poor baby sobs uncontrollably.
Maybe it is because it is 2:30 in the morning, or maybe it is because I can feel the tickle of a head cold coming on, but I still cannot for the life of me make out what she is saying.
“What Sweetie? Who needs to go home?” I ask as soothingly as I can.
“THE CWAB, HE KEEPS WAKING ME UP!”
“Crab?” I take a wild guess.
“Yeah, he is scaring me!” She continues crying and it is at this point that I realize she must have just had — or still is having — a dream.
“OK Sophie, Mama will get rid of Mr. Crab, OK.” I say in tired tones of amusement. I then begin to pick up the imaginary crab and throw it outside her door. This I thought would provide enough solace for the girl to fall back into dreamland. But in reality, it only causes her more angst!
“HE’S GOING TO CRAWL BACK IN MY ROOM!” The thought is obviously more terrifying, than the initial crab was and I am getting more and more exhausted with each crab chucking fiasco.
So I ask, “Well what would you like me to do with the crab Sophie?!”
The three-year-old girl looks me straight in the eyes, her face is shadowed from the dim light of her pink faux fur covered lamp, and she explains, “You put him outside. … So he freezes to death.”
Oh well then, why didn’t I think of that.
So there I begin, picking up make-believe unseen crabs (because now there is more than one) and moving all the way towards the patio door to throw them outside so they will freeze to death.
The most insane part of it all is, even when I am out of the girl’s sight, I still hold my hands six inches apart in a clutching position as though I am holding the crab in question.
I am in about five crabs deep, when Sophie advises me that there is one close on my heels! I jump at the thought of a blasted crab crawling that close to me.
For a split second I am thinking, ‘I have to get rid of these crabs, they’re everywhere! What the hell am I going to do?’
I begin frantically throwing my head to and fro trying to see these crabs that my daughter speaks of.
CRABS, CRABS … SO MANY CRABS!
It is then that I realize sleep deprivation is starting to kick in.
So I pick Sophie up out of bed, and tell her that we are going to sleep in bed with Daddy.
She responds with, “Good idea Mama, Daddy protect us from the cwabs.”
For the remainder of the night, I dream of crabs and it is unnerving and uncomfortable. … Especially since Sophie is shoving her feet in my face and I am believing it is a fat little crab making its way towards my brain.
When I wake up, I realize that Sophie and I are finally safe from the nightmares of crabs. But I hope to God that I never have to fight off the pesky things in the darkness hours again.
Because sometimes, even the most imaginary creepy crawlies can send a shiver up your spine.
Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.