The past two nights Snuggler has had nightmares about something bad happening to Big Guy. On Friday she was up three times, distraught, and finally fell asleep in the armchair in our room. Last night she had a complicated and scary dream in which Big Guy was so badly depressed that he had to have surgery and Electro-shock therapy to try to pull him out of it. This morning she awoke unhappy and very fussy. And certain she couldn't go to church.
We went through several rounds of "what are you afraid of?" and then several rounds of "no matter how you're feeling, you need to treat others with respect". Andrew snuggled her for a long while, then I had a turn. She "couldn't" go to church, she said. So I had her do a couple of minutes of deep breathing exercises, and then I told her that as long as there wasn't a bear outside her door, she could let her feet take her where her fears wouldn't let her go. I told her to go get dressed.
"But I can't go to church!" she wailed.
"We're not going to worry about that," I reminded her, as gently as I could, "We're going to focus on doing just one easy thing: getting dressed."
So she went to get dressed, and she was successful at that.
When she came back I told her the next one thing she was going to do was to brush her hair. She was able to do that, too.
Then she started to lighten up a bit -- getting moving will do that for you -- and began reading something. So I said, "Here's what we'll do. We'll walk over to church and give it a try. If it doesn't work, then I'll take you out."
She agreed to that plan. So we walked to church and gave it a try. And she was fine.