Grace has been having trouble falling asleep recently. She becomes scared of monsters and unnamed threats when left alone in her room. No amount of reassurances will allay her fears. She needs a different comfort. I have been lying with her to help her fall asleep, but this means either I fall asleep too, and wake up cold with a sore neck/back, or I lie there bored out of my mind, thinking of all the other stuff I could be doing.
Even though I spend most of my weekdays alone, I like my time after the kids go to bed. I use it to watch some shows I have recorded, to knit, and to view any "Not Suitable for Work" (NSFW) material that might have been sent to my inbox. I have learned the hard way that NSFW means "Not suitable for Children". I get twitchy when I miss my evening time.
The other option is to put Grace in the big bed, where I can at least spread out and/or read while I am staying with her. But Himself and I never sleep as well when Little Miss Pointy Elbows is in the bed.
So last night, Grace -who always used to snuggle down happily in her own bed, was crying and apologizing that she was scared. I reassured her and told her there was no need to be sorry. Her fear -no matter how irrational- is real, and I although I do ask her to make an honest effort to self-comfort, if she can't do it the first time, I will stay with her. But last night I had a TON of stuff to do and Grace was in my bed, not wanting to be left alone. "Can't you bring your work up here?" she asked. "I can't wash the dishes up here". She laughed at that thought.
Then I had an idea. I took off the shirt I had been wearing, turned it inside-out and handed it to Grace.
"What does this smell like?"
She gave it a cautious sniff, then inhaled deeply. "It smells like you!" She cottoned on immediately and snuggled down with the shirt.
"I feel like you are holding me" (I was sitting on the edge of the bed, not touching her.)
"Do you want to try staying alone for five minutes, and I will come and check on you?"
She was already visibly relaxing into the bed. She nodded.
I checked on her five minutes later. She was fast asleep.
When I went to bed a couple of hours later, she was still cuddling the shirt.
They say that the sense of smell has the most connections to the emotions and to past associations. I guess that is true.
Tomorrow night, I am going to try her with the the shirt in her bed.