Several weeks ago I got a call from my youngest stepdaughter. "I think there's something here," she said, "and I was wondering if you would come over one night and see if you can find anything." Knowing she'd been having problems with "mysterious intolerable odors (think disgusting bathroom smells...ugh!) for the last few months, I said sure and that I could come over after class the next night. Then she said, "It's in Andy's (name has been changed) room and he's terrified and won't go in there anymore. Not even to play." Uh oh, not what I thought at all. And then she says, "You're the only one I know who can help me." She told me Andy screams when gets near his bedroom doorway. He tells her "The Scary" is in there. I asked her if she wanted me to come right then and she said tomorrow night would be fine. After asking again, she assured me the next night would be okay.
All that night while gathering things together, I wondered what in the world was going on and am I going to be able to help my 4-year-old grandson? Part of me wondered if he was jealous of his new baby brother, but the other part of me wondered if there really is a "Scary" in Andy's room.
After class the next night, I headed to my stepdaughter's apartment to see what was going on. When I got there, my she told me that all of a sudden things had changed in Andy's room. He went from sleeping in his bed and playing in his room, to screaming in fear at the thought of going in there. I asked her where the baby sleeps, thinking maybe he slept with her and this is what the problem is: sibling jealousy. Unfortunately that isn't the case. The baby has his own room and sleeps in his own bed. So it was on to the next step.
Andy and I went to his room, turned my DVR to record and Andy showed me where "The Scary" was. It was in his closet, up on the top shelf. I looked but couldn't see anything. He asked, "Can't you see it, Mimi?" I hated telling him that I couldn't see "The Scary," but I also don't believe in lying to him, so I explained to him that sometimes adults don't see the same things little kids do, but I told him if he saw "The Scary" then we needed to do something to make it go away.
We went back downstairs, got my Smudge Stick and back upstairs we went. I wanted to "empower" Andy, make him feel like he had control, so I let him help me "smudge" the room. After lighting the Smudge Stick and getting it to "smoke," I placed my hand over Andy's and lifted him. While smudging the closet, I had him repeat after me things like, "You need to leave; I'm not afraid of you anymore; you don't belong here; I'm a big boy; this is my room; go away; you don't scare me; leave me alone; get out of here," all while smudging the room and moving "The Scary" toward Andy's bedroom window where we made it go out a very small hole in the screen, telling it to "leave and never come back again." Andy wanted to do it again, so I asked him if he wanted his mommy to help this time. He did, so we went back downstairs and got my stepdaughter. I explained to her that I thought it would be good for her to be able to do it when I was gone. Just in case.
Andy and I went through the steps, with my stepdaughter watching. Andy again repeated his "I'm not afraid of you, go away, etc." speech while driving "The Scary" out the window, once again telling it to leave, get out and never come back. This time, when we got "The Scary" out the window, Andy asked, "How long? How long before my bad thing disappears?"
Crap, I thought. Are you kidding me? It's still here? Now what? All these thoughts were rolling through my head. "Are you sure it's still here?" I asked. Andy nodded his head and pointed to the top of his closet. Okay then...well...Time to try a different tactic. So I asked him how long he wanted it to take. "One," he said. "One minute." I told Andy to close his eyes and he had to believe. "Do you believe?" I asked him. "I can't," he said. So I explained to him that if he believed the bad thing was still there, than it was going to still be there. But if he believed it was going to be gone... It would be gone.
It took a few minutes, a few jokes about "are you sure you believe, really, really believe," a few giggles and laughter, repeating "I believe he's gone", but when he was ready to open his eyes, I told Andy there was one way to know if he really, really believed. If "The Scary" was still there, then he didn't really believe. So Andy said he was ready to open his eyes; that he really, really believed.
When he opened his eyes, he said, "It's gone, Mommy!" My stepdaughter and I looked at each other in relief, but still not entirely convinced that it was going to be that easy. With "high-fives" and "what a big boy you are" to Andy, we went to his closet. Andy looked and told us that "The Scary" was gone. I have to admit that I was more than relieved at that point. I was sure Andy would see "The Scary" when he looked in his closet.
I left my Smudge Stick with my stepdaughter, telling her that he may "see" it again and I wanted her to be prepared and able to take care of it herself. The next day I checked on him. She said Andy told her that morning that "The Scary" was still gone, and that he played in his room after coming home from preschool that afternoon.
It's been over a month now and there has been no sign of him being afraid of his room. Was there really something in his room that only he could see? I don't know. Maybe. Was it his imagination? I don't know that either, but I wasn't willing to accept that. He and my stepdaughter were miserable. And there was no sense in him being scared to death whenever he was near his bedroom. What I do know for sure is what we did made him feel better and that makes me feel better. I'd do it the same way again in a heartbeat.