The NBA vs. Wonder Woman
I’m not going to lie. I’m happy most professional sports have ended — at least the ones my husband watches.
A few weeks ago, the NBA finals brought back a particularly bad memory that turned our entire household upside down. Let me take you back to the 2014 NBA championships.
Gerald was shouting at the TV as he had been every night since the playoffs began.
That night I was rushing out for a meeting with an artists’ group. “Bye, y’all!” I yelled, running out the front door. I knew the girls were in good hands because Dad Can Handle It!
I was back home by 8:30, the perfect time to give both of my girls kisses before bed. But as soon as I came in, I knew something was wrong.
I followed the sound of screaming, which led me to my youngest daughter, Sage, who was crying uncontrollably. My husband was fuming, and my oldest daughter, Skye, had her head down frantically biting her already nubby nails.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Your daughter…” my husband started while glaring at Skye “changed the show I allowed them to watch and put on some scary movie!”
“No, Daddy,” Skye confidently interjected. “I didn’t change the show!” She then turned toward me, “Mom, I went to daddy and asked him if we could watch this movie, and he told me to watch whatever I wanted just don’t bother him while the game is on.”
“Calida, you know these are the best NBA playoffs EVER!” Gerald said quickly.
I took a deep breath.
“What was the scary movie? And what is she afraid of ?” I asked.
“It was R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour,” Skye whispered under her breath.
Sage began blurting out somewhat discernable words through her tears, “There was this doll… that didn’t want to be a doll. It was moving around and… and it took over the little girl’s body. I’m scared, mommy. I don’t want to go to sleep. I’m scared.”
“Let me be alone with her,” I said to Gerald and Skye.
As they slipped out the door, I rocked Sage to sleep in my arms, rubbed her hair, and laid next to her in the bed.
When I was finally able to get in my own bed, Gerald was waiting. “Look,” he said, “we put parental guidance restrictions on the iPads. I thought they could look at whatever was on them. It could have easily happened on your watch.”
“You’re right,” I replied. But she is really scared. Let’s go to bed.”
Around 1 a.m., Gerald and I were jolted out of our sleep by a cry of terror. We both ran into our daughter’s room.
“The dolls are going to get me. Don’t leave me!” Sage cried out.
My husband, who was riddled with guilt, tried to soothe her.
“It will be OK. We’re here.”
But her entire body was covered with sweat, and she kept repeating, “The dolls are going to get me. The dolls are going to get me.”
The only thing that seemed to console her was taking all the dolls and stuffed animals out of her room and locking them in the hallway closet. She even asked us to put a chair in front of the door just to make sure the dolls could not get out.
Unfortunately, the screams in the middle of the night continued for weeks. I had to escort my daughter to the bathroom and every other room in the house because she was too frightened to be alone. My patience was waning.
“Mommy, can you watch me brush my teeth.”
“No! You are 6 years old. You can do it.”
“But I am scared, Mommy.” she’d reply with large pleading eyes.
Even though my husband and I reminded her of how brave she was, and that the movie was not real, she was still petrified of being in any room alone, especially with a doll. It seemed like the fear was evolving into a phobia.
We needed help. We talked to Sage’s teachers, visited a therapist, and even saw an acupuncturist. But we saw no long lasting effects.
I tried to be creative. Together, Sage and I burned white sage and let its smoke purify the rooms to ward off all negative energy and spirits. But my little girl still couldn’t shake the feeling that something could get her at any time.
Going forward, I told my daughters, we were going to “fake it until we become it” to quote Amy Cuddy.
Every day, I followed the advice Cuddy suggested, which was to tell my girls to find a power position and hold it for two minutes. Sage became a big fan of the “Wonder Woman” pose, so I made her stand with her hands on her hips, feet at shoulder length, head held high, before entering a room alone.
It caught on. At times, before fetching things for me from the other side of our home or being alone in her room, Sage would put her hands on her hips and assume the position, or she would raised her arms up high like she’d just crossed the finish line in first place.
Her anxiety began to dissipate and her confidence returned.
So here we are — a year later. Another playoff season has ended, and Sage has improved dramatically. She simply needed to tap into her inner Wonder Woman and assume a power pose.
It helps too that the dolls are still locked in the closet.