Now when Conrad has a nightmare, he continues to remember it once he wakes up. He can tell us about it. And he can form a fear that, if he falls asleep again, it might come back.
Now that we're back in this developmental stage, I can dimly remember, through a haze of old sleep deprivation, that we went through this with Gareth at about the same age. It'll pass, or at least cease to be a nightly issue. Meanwhile, oh, the suckage! Conrad mostly seems to dream about being chased and bitten--by birds, monsters, his older brother, and who knows what else. Sometimes he has happy dreams, too, laughing and talking in his sleep, but of course those dreams don't wake him up. Wouldn't it be convenient to be able to say to him, when he wakes from a nightmare, "Hey, remember how you woke from that happy dream just a couple of hours ago? You might go back to that one next."
Instead, we've told him that the disinfecting wipes we use for toys and other germy surfaces are Monster Wipes. Monsters can't stand the smell of them, just the way ants and pantry moths can't stand the smell of thyme oil. Every night, Dan wipes down Conrad's bed, and the doors and window of the boys' bedroom, so that monsters won't come in. This strategy has been more effective than anything else. Alas, Gareth has figured out that we're telling Conrad a fib, so this whole routine could lose its effectiveness at any moment.
Conrad's predicament has been much on my mind during my teaching prep hours, which have been full of Poe. A bunch of my tutoring students are reading Poe at school, in something their teachers refer to as "the strange and mysterious unit." I always think it with capital letters, as the title of an imaginary Poe story in its own right. For more about that, you can check out my Black Gate post for this week.