dreaming with eyes open and the latchkey kid

image by photography loves via flickr

I made the mistake of taking a nap the other day. The only time I’ve been able to successfully nap was when my children were infants and my days and nights blended into one and sleep became just that, little respites in between feedings (I hate that word, sounds like tossing some grain on the floor when really it was such a beautiful time of sweet scents and comfort, the deliciousness of a baby curled against your skin).

Now, when I dream, I find it hard to emerge. It fights to keep me there, clawing and scratching and pulling me back.

These nap dreams are crazy wild and often populated by people I know, by wildly twisted realities which are, despite their often disturbing undertones, captivating and mesmerizing. I often dream that I cannot open my eyes, that I cannot awaken, and when I finally do I realize that I don’t want to, my dream world so close I can almost stroke its edge, straddle that chasm between the two states.

I was finally able to hack my way into an old old laptop which contained things I’ve missed, the notes I wrote when my children were young and I wanted so to be able to capture those moments, those sounds and smells. It was so old I could not connect it to the internet, or pop in a flash drive, so quickly I took screenshots, knowing that at any moment this glimpse into the past would be gone with a flash and the loud whirring that warned of something fatally wrong. I secreted away with my stash of the past and savored it. Photos and drawings, notes and letters drafted (not sent?). Indeed I had forgotten nearly all of them.

Children dream awake. They lose themselves in play, in arranging a thousand little figurines into a million configurations whose silence screams to them in a cacophony of voices, of horses and battles and dinosaur cries, of the whoosh of wings and the tinkling of stars.

As adults we seek that dreamlike state, never losing that human need to turn within to our imaginations, to worlds which are not bleached of color and whose meanings while complex we have no need to decipher. Those who dream (or are aware of them, for we all do) find this magic with eyes closed. We all seek the same with eyes wide open. The vessel may be a book, a piece of music, a pastime which is not merely a way to pass the time but a way to regain it, to halt it and to swim within its cool waters.

On our town’s online forum the posts usually deal with organic garden tours and pleas to recover a misplaced coat or a teenager’s phone. Mostly, though, they debate local politics with great vitriol, which is why I often skim them.

The other day, though, there was one post which gave me pause and stayed in my thoughts. It has yet to receive a response.

“My daughter is a 7th grader at ••••. She is a sweet, quiet kid and didn’t like the after care program that the YMCA offers at her school. Does anyone have any other suggestions ? Are there any families in the area of the school that might be interested in offering their home for her to walk to, do homework, relax, until we can pick her up after work. She just needs to be safe, not much, if any, supervision. We would, of course, compensate.”

I understand, deeply, how difficult it is to make certain that while you are at work your beloveds are safe and well cared for. I too struggled with childcare issues (the nanny who used my toothbrush, the daycare center run by a tyrant). Without family nearby we often felt that we were adrift on a shaky raft in the middle of an angry sea. Asking for suggestions, I get, totally.

But it was the second part, especially the “we would, of course, compensate,” that made me blink. This is not a puppy needing to be walked, but a “sweet, quiet kid” who just needs a place to be safe. I’m sure the mother loves her child as fiercely as I do mine, but that she sought out an afternoon home for her child in a public forum is, for me, terribly sad.

I almost responded. But I didn’t. I suppose I could try to defend myself by assuring you that I open my arms to my family and those in my circle, but really it is not about me, or her, but the fact that this could even happen in a cozy little town filled of well-meaning people.

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2 thoughts on “dreaming with eyes open and the latchkey kid

  1. I’m forever fascinated by my dreams — when I can recall them. There’s always a key to understanding them. Best, though, is that state between waking and sleep, the edge of creative thought. I love your notion, too, that children dream awake . . . and the way it took you to a more sobering reality re: one seventh grade girl.

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