My boys are afraid of the dark.
Night after night, they forego sleeping in separate bedrooms to fidget and fuss side by side in the darkness. My husband and I have tried everything to quell their fears, from night lights and lovies and crying it out to sitting farther and farther from the bed each night. But fear is fear. We’ve given in. Instead of following expert opinion, we snuggle next to their small, sleepy bodies until they finally take the train to Snoozetown.
And listen, if there’s one thing I really need to tell you about, it’s Snoozetown.
I created Snoozetown to help the boys forget about those things they’re afraid of. It’s a lot like Dreamland, only in this particular imaginary destination, ”scary” doesn’t exist. Here, little boys are completely in control, and only happy, funny, silly things can happen.
For example: In Snoozetown, my dairy/egg/nut-allergic kids can walk into an ice cream shop and order giant hot fudge sundaes with mounds of whipped cream and crushed pecans. They can head to the Snoozetown zoo and take a ride on two giant purple elephants with wings, or bring home anything and everything they want from the Snoozetown toy store. There’s no such thing as a nap. Or cauliflower. Or bad guys. And if my sons want to fly an airplane that can instantly convert to an invisible submarine made of candy, well, then they know where they can go to find one.
Every night, we decide where to meet when we get to Snoozetown. We each offer an idea, and then we vote. Tonight, five-year-old H has the winning idea.
“Wet’s just be whatever we want,” he says. “That’s what I’d wike to do. We don’t have to go to any special part of Snoozetown. Wet’s just pick what we want to be and be it.”
“What do you think, O, does that sound good?” I ask.
My three-year-old nods and smiles into the darkness as he tucks his tiny hands around my arm.
“Ok. So H, what do you want to be?”
“I’ll be a vampire that turns into a robot bat. And when I fwy, I’ll fwy wike this.” He sits up, rests his hands on his hips and flaps his arms like a chicken.
“Fine,” I say in my most serious voice. “Robot bat it is. What about you, O?”
“I’ll be Iron Man in a red suit and a red mask. And when I fwy, I’ll fwy so fast, H the robot bat won’t be able to catch me.”
“That sounds awesome.” I say. “And I’ll be the Prima Ballerina of the Snoozetown ballet.”
They groan. I always “girl” it up too much for their taste.
“What?” I say, defensively. “Do you have any idea how strong dancers are? They’re stronger than any kind of athlete I can think of. Maybe they can’t bench as much as a football player, but they can defy gravity, and that’s incredible.”
“Dancers aren’t strong,” O insists.
“Are you sure?” I ask, pulling my iPhone from my pocket. I press my YouTube icon and search for “Kirov Ballet.”
“Here.” I say. “Just watch.”
I press the play button and show them this:
The dancer launches into a perfect pirouette. “This is me in Snoozetown,” I say.
They watch for maybe a split second. And then they quite simply howl with laughter. And not just any kind of laughter, either. I’m talking about the uncontrollable, can’t-catch-my-breath-are-you-serious kind of belly laughs.
“Mama!!!” O manages to say between rolling fits. “H, can’t you just see Mama??? Spinning wike dat? Wouldn’t dat be funny?”
“I can’t stop waffing!” H answers, holding his sides.
“Come on!” I say. “This is Snoozetown! I could totally do this!”
But they keep laughing. And the next thing you know, I’m laughing, too. And I keep laughing with them until we slow down to giggles and happy, exhausted sighs.
“Dat was great.” H says.
“Yeah, it was.” O says.
They’re right. It was. That was really, really great.
I know what their pediatrician would say: these boys are far too old to be lulled to sleep at night with stories of Snoozetown and their mother’s arms around them. But I work all day. I miss out on them far too often, and I know it. So if Snoozetown gives me 30 extra minutes with them each day, and it if lets me peer into the windows of their imaginations, and if it allows me to hear them dream and create out loud, then I will take the Snoozetown Express for as long as they will let me.
I think I’d be crazy not to.
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