Thursday, April 24, 2008
Begone, Duende! Let my Daughter Be
Has Salma seen a duende? More likely she is just going through a phase. It started about four days ago, at least that's when I noticed it. She was in the bedroom watching an Elmo DVD that we recently got. Normally either Laura or I am in the room with her, but at that moment Laura had gone to the kitchen to get Salma a snack. Elmo is pretty harmless anyway. Suddenly Salma came running out of the room, crying.
Ever since that moment, this is what we're going through:
Salma will not stay in any room alone, even for a moment. If we're playing in the living room and I get up to go to the bathroom or get a glass of water, she will whine or cry and follow me.
Salma refuses to sleep in her crib, until she first cries for an hour or more. I (or Laura) hold her, sing to her, she falls asleep, but as soon as I try to lay her down she clutches my shirt and cries. If I set her down she will scream and cry. The only thing that will work is for me or Laura to sleep in the bed that is next to her crib. Even then she cries and wails before settling down.
Same thing for daytime naps. She will not sleep on her own. She cries and screams as soon as I set her down. Even Ani cannot get her to sleep.
She has also become very insecure. She used to be intrepid, exploring everything, approaching everyone. Now all of a sudden everything frightens her. I picked up the vacuum cleaner the other day - it was off - and Salma ran away just at the sight of it.
As a result Salma is exhausted, so she whines cries all the time and doesn't want to eat. She's a total basket case, and I am becoming one too. It's wearing me out. What on earth is going on?
Meanwhile Rosa is out sick, apparently with an infected molar. Her husband Claudio came by today and I gave him Rosa's pay for the week to pay for her medical care. I mentioned to him what was happening with Salma, and he said very matter of factly, "Maybe she saw a Duende."
Because of a discussion I had with Corrin Skubin last week, I just happen to know what this is. A duende is a mythological figure similar to a fairy or goblin. According to some, it's a goblin or elf that appears in the form of a dwarf and takes small children.
Wikipedia says, "They are believed to be of a small stature wearing big hats whistling a mystical song while walking in the forest. Using their talent they are believed to lure young girls to the forest and causing them to lose their way home. Conversely, in some Latin cultures the Duendes are believed to be the helpers of people who get lost in the forest so they could find their way home.
In Hispanic folklore of the American Southwest, Duendes are known as evil, green-skinned, red-eyed little monsters who live inside the walls of homes, especially in bedroom walls of young children. They attempt to convince children to misbehave, and will eventually try to steal a child's soul."
It's true that I sometimes hear noises coming from inside the air conditioning unit in Salma's room. Laura has mentioned that we might have mice in there.
In all seriousness, though, I hope Salma gets over this problem soon, Insha'Allah.