My daughter is terrified of ‘robbers’. For her, the term ‘robbers’ covers all criminals, including those who steal people, as well as things. When my younger son was going to spend the night in the Hobbycraft car park, her main concern was that ‘robbers’ would get him. A pretty sensible concern really. Thankfully she hasn’t come across the terms ‘kidnapper’ or ‘paedophile’ yet.
She’s not entirely sure what robbers look like. She didn’t used to even believe they were human. But they are out there and they could come into our house at any time. They could take Teddy or the Wii or even her.
If there’s one thing we can be sure of, and very grateful for, it’s that they won’t take Teddy. He’s a dirty, scruffy thing. ‘But what if they had a child?’ Well they would nick him/ her one of the cleaner, newer looking toys, once they’d had the TV, DVD player, Wii, iPad, camera etc. Maybe they could do me a favour and take the computer that doesn’t work?
Two nights before Christmas, she was in a state of panic. What if she hears Father Christmas? What if she thinks it’s a robber? What if it is a robber? What if she screams? What if she’s frightened? What if Father Christmas doesn’t come because she’s awake? What if she sees him? What if she sees a robber?
I was ready to throw in the towel. I was ready to come clean. What’s the point in putting her through this. Father Christmas is for her, not the boys. Although he hasn’t come out and said it, there’s no way my eldest still believes. And my younger son is a very bright boy. At 8, it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t believe. So we are keeping this charade going to keep a little girl happy and all we are doing is feeding her fears and leaving her in a state of terror.
But I have no sounding board. My husband is out with my boys, so I can’t ask his advice. It’s a big, almost life-changing, decision and I can’t make it on my own. So I reassure her. There won’t be any robbers. If she hears Father Christmas, it’s fine, if she calls me in the night, it’s fine. But, most likely, she won’t hear anything and she will wake up to a lovely big pile of presents.
Until Christmas night. As she’s going to bed, she clutches her precious pink DS. ‘We can’t let robbers come,’ she says. ‘Robbers take electric things and this is an electric thing.’ She is working herself up into a state of panic again.
All I can do is tell her robbers won’t come, and hope that they really won’t, because how can I ever promise her? Then we hide the DS and she goes to bed.
Crisis averted. Until next time.