My son Walid was smart and confident and interacted well with his teacher. My problem with Walid was his fear of the dark. After nightfall he wouldn’t leave my side, scared to even go near the balcony. His phobia worried me, what if it was the sign of a serious psychological problem? Sometimes he would wake up at night afraid, and refuse to sleep alone. I even went to a specialized psychiatrist to help me find a solution for his phobia.
One day I received an invitation from the Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation for a discussion about children’s psychological and behavioral problems, it was taking place at my son’s kindergarten. To be honest my family commitments prevented me from participating in many events at the kindergarten, but because of the subject of the invitation I decided to go to the event. I thought to myself, maybe I’ll find a solution for Walid’s problem. I did in fact join the event and I was amazed at the lecturer’s approach; I was willing to listen to her for hours. She gave me the key to a solution for Walid: children’s stories. It had never even crossed my mind before that we could find answers to serious problems through storytelling.
After the meeting I went to the kindergarten’s administration to ask if they had stories about children being afraid. I found all I wanted, and started to work with Walid every bedtime by telling him stories about fear. The kindergarten supervisor put me in touch with a social worker and the class teacher so we could coordinate our efforts. After a month, Walid’s fear of the dark began to subside. I agreed with the social worker on how to gradually accustom him to going out to the balcony at night, under my supervision. My experience made me use the kindergarten as a resource for children’s stories about many different issues, and bedtime became story time for my children. I am indebted to the Ghasan Kanafany Cultural Foundation and the Welfare Association and everyone who helped, from the social worker to the class teacher and the kindergarten supervisor.