A Smile in the Dark
by Karen Dickerson
"Mommy, where's my race car?" Ryan asked, running into the kitchen.
I was concentrating on slicing carrots so I answered without turning around, "I think you left it in the basement. The door’s unlocked. You can go get it." I listened to his footsteps, the turn of the knob and the squeak of the opening door.
"Mommy," he whispered, "it's really dark down there."
I'm convinced the day my son turned two years old a fear switch inside of him turned on. Things that never frightened him before; heights, vacuum cleaners, flushing toilets and smoke detectors, now made him tremble. But what he feared most of all was the dark.
At bedtime I tried my best to reassure him that he was safe. Together we read books and watched videos about not being afraid. He insisted that a 100-watt bulb burn brightly in his room before he consented to sleep. Every night leaving his room I repeated, "Remember Ryan, God is always with you."
Now, quite a bit older, and having gone from 100 watts down to 60, 40, 25 and 15, Ryan is content to sleep with just a seven-watt bulb, but I knew walking down into darkness would still be overwhelming. "Just a minute," I called out to him, "I'll turn the light on for you."
I cut the last carrot and wiped my hands but when I got to the basement door I realized he was already downstairs. Thinking he didn't hear me, I shouted, "I said I'd turn the light on for you," and reached for the switch.
"I don't need a light Mommy," he declared boldly, "I'm not scared. God is with me."
I left the light off and prayed, "I see my son trusting in you and I remember that you’re the only help he'll ever need." With racecar in hand, Ryan victoriously ascended the stairs. I'm not sure which one of us had the biggest grin.