My children sleep with dream lights. They are not the Dream Lites advertised on television because we assumed, of course, those would not work. When the kids started asking for the ones on television, however, we found these at a local store. The girls have ladybugs; the boy has a turtle.
We take these lights on vacation with us. When we stayed at hotels after Hurricane Sandy, we had the lights with us. They have become one of the most important parts of our bedtime routine–ahead of “sips and kisses,” just behind “bunny” and “bear.”
Most nights they are lit up the moment each child is in his or her bed. Three sky-fulls of stars fill their bedroom walls and ceiling. They change colors, and back again. The room glows orange or blue or red, or orange and blue, orange and red. Henry likes to coordinate the color of his turtle with the girls’. A crescent moon appears, then another, and another. Three moons among the sea of glowing stars. They they fall asleep under the night sky of another universe.
We replace the batteries every few months, as the dream light begins to fail, to blink, to switch colors on its own. I fight with them to Stop touching the dream lights and go to sleep! NOW! Ellie will howl if her ladybug cannot be located immediately at bedtime. Molly has lost the privilege of the dream light for disobeying a babysitter. For this, she declared she “hated” me and wrote me a note further explaining her feelings.
As they fall asleep, each child’s light remains close. My children’s thoughts, entering the strange world of dreams, are as distant as any celestial light. Their breathing slows and amplifies. They snore. I move away only when I am sure their eyes won’t pop open.
The stars shift on the ceiling as a child turns in her sleep. The lights will remain on for another 30 minutes by themselves. When I open the door later to check on the kids, the room will be dark except for the light from the avenue seeping under the window shade.
On occasion, I have switched on a dream light at that point. And I sit in the children’s room as they sleep, for ten minutes, for thirty minutes, with the stars–their stars–surrounding us.