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Afraid of Open Windows

I could go so many ways with this blog; There are so many definitions of an open window. For instance, I could use it for a metaphor for my life except…in this case I am actually talking about my own daughter who is afraid of open windows. Glass and wood windows. Those things on every apartment, building or house.

How did I find this out? It has been gloriously nice in New York. It’s not too hot during the day and still cool at night. Perfect sleeping weather, actually. For instance, last night it went down to 59 degrees. Two weeks ago we discussed turning on the central air, but my point of view was, why so soon? It’s not hot enough yet, I said. Besides, I remembered all those nights I spent sleeping with the windows open — listening to the rustle of leaves and sound of crickets and wanted my kids to have the same experience. After debating the topic for a few minutes we decided to delay the AC, at least for a little while. My little one did not like this plan, though.

The first night the windows were open she got extremely agitated, begging me to close and lock her windows. She was afraid, she said, that someone would come in. It was too scary, she said. Watching the curtains moving upset her. Besides, it was SO dark outside. “Please, Mama! Please close the window!”

I tried to reason with her. No one could get in, I told her. We would hear if someone tried. Besides, the dog would literally kill anyone who tried to enter the house. Then I tried appealing to her comfort. The cool air felt so good. Keeping the windows closed meant the heat from the day would stay inside and make sleeping difficult. But none of these logical arguements appeased her. The windows had to be closed, she said. She was so upset so I shut and locked them, shaking my head the entire time.

It’s my fault, of course. I have always been so nutty when it comes to locking doors and windows and putting our alarm on. I even wedge a piece of wood in our sliding glass door when we’re not using it. Everything in the house is set up to thwart a would-be intruder. I know my extreme security focus is a reaction from childhood.

While the windows being open at night didn’t scare me, the fact that we had to put a chair against the back door at night — and my mom slept with a bat under the bed — made an impression. So did the time someone looked in our window! Our doberman chased whoever it was off pretty quickly, but it was scary. And then there was the time when, soon after my husband and I moved into our first house, someone removed the screen in the bathroom and pushed open the window as we lay sleeping only 20 feet away. We woke to our dog barking incessantly. We couldn’t figure out where she was. We found her outside. She had leaped out the window after the person, and chased him or her out of our yard. It was an experience that still makes me shudder.

Still, yes people do crazy things and security is important, but I wonder if — in my quest to keep my kids safe — I have made them feel inherently unsafe. I wonder if my caution has created more fear than there should be.

Right now I am sitting in my office with my window wide open. There’s a soft breeze blowing in. I opened all the windows in the bedrooms, too. And yet the front door is locked, and the wood is in the sliding glass door. Very soon it will become too hot in New York for my air conditioning-raised kids and husband to contemplate sleeping with the windows open, so the decision will be made for us. In the meantime, do I keep trying to sleep with the windows open? I hate to say it, but probably not. It’s just too traumatic for my daughter. Sigh.

Do you sleep with the windows open? Do you worry about it if you do? I’d like to know.

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