It's time we chased some monsters away. On October 1st Pajama Program will make an announcement that we hope will help a lot more children in need go to bed feeling a little warmer, loved a little more and with a better chance of replacing nightmares with dreams for them. We're taking a step toward healing some loneliness for the children we see every day, and for those we may never meet but care for from afar.
All children deserve a bedtime like most of us had as youngsters, or now provide for our own children. I remember feeling safe, loved and very warm under my covers. There was no doubt in my young mind that tomorrow would be OK because my family would be there, even if school was difficult that day or my friends weren't very nice to me. There were no scary monsters under my bed. I never really thought about it exactly like that as I lay my head on my pillow, but looking back, that stable environment I took for granted meant exactly that: I was sure my family would always be there, every bedtime and every morning. If something bad happened they would make it OK. What a simple concept most of us take for granted.
A kiss on the forehead at bedtime, a silly phrase like, "Don't let the bedbugs bite," a family holiday ritual of new pajamas every Christmas all mean something subconsciously to a child getting ready for bed. Now I find myself wondering more and more: What are our children feeling before they fall asleep? What thoughts run through their minds? What scary monsters are hiding under their beds?
Children we meet ask us what pajamas are; I still can't believe it. They shouldn't have to sleep in their clothes for days and nights at a time. There are no soothing story books to help distract them from frightening thoughts before sleep. A dreaded silence over a comforting word as lights are turned off shouldn't be the norm. Too many children are cold at night and left alone in the dark with their fears. What happens in the winter to the abandoned children? To those who have been neglected or abused? To the ones transferred from temporary home to temporary home looking for a family? And to the families on the edge, barely staying together? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night -- more than any scary monsters under my bed could.