“Mama? I had ANOTHER DREAM last night,” my 5YO tells me. She paces the bathroom where I’m applying my face and peeks up to take in my response. I nod my head, motioning for her to continue. “I don’t know if I should tell you because this time it was REALLY BAD…” She likes to prepare me for the worst. It’s one of the ways I know she hasn’t really been “dreaming.”
“Can’t scare me, Pea. I’m a product of the 90?s.”
“Okay, well, this time I was standing near our house, which was on fire. And I reached out to touch it. And then everyone else wanted to touch it too. And the fire kept getting bigger and bigger…”
She goes on, telling a very coherent tale, another indication that she hasn’t been dreaming; she’s been thinking. My daughter has a lot of “thoughts” like this. Big, dangerous productions. Being kidnapped. Fires. Losing all of her family or friends. And now that we’re facing the anxiety of preschool ending and Kindergarten beginning, she’s having lots and lots of “dreams.”
This particular “dream” has burned her possessions to ashes, and left her friendless. Normally at this point we’d sit down and talk about the differences between “dreams” and “thoughts,” and decide what she’s actually experiencing and why it scares her. But before I can say anything, I remember my seventh grade English teacher, Ms. Neilson.
Ms. Neilson was the first teacher who took interest in molding me as a storyteller. At the time I was writing all kinds of angsty things that got me sent to the office for “concern.” But she wasn’t worried that I was some trench-coat kid waiting to unfurl my secret hatred. She told me I was a writer. She let me tell whatever story I wanted, as long as I did it properly, and as long as I continued to write. When she wasn’t phased by my dark thoughts, I felt free to create bigger, almost-happy things.
I look down at my 5YO, so solemn and sad. I kneel on the floor, eye-level…read on
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I’m guest posting over at SpeakeasyDC today. You can check out their great blog here, including really funny posts written by my husband, Mike. (His posts always make me laugh, even though I’ve lived most of the stories with him. Except yesterday’s. Yesterday’s was a surprise…)