Friday, March 21, 2008
A few nights ago I had a strange dream. I woke in the middle of the night thinking about the dream because it seemed so rich in meaning.
When I was a little girl I went to a camp in Pennsylvania for a week each summer. At this camp I would swim and ride horses and tell secrets and eat camp food. I dreamed I was back at this camp and that my friend and I decided to take the hunting class. We learned how to hunt for bears.
She and I went into the woods to look for some bears and we saw one. When I saw the bear I was scared. I saw that my friend had a hunting rifle, but the bear was not going towards her. He was coming towards me. I looked down to see what I had to fight the bear. I was holding a broken blue crayon.
I don't really know what happened next. I remember the bear coming towards me and I remember thinking I needed to run away but I woke up before anything else happened.
I told Firefly about my dream. We discussed how maybe I was feeling ill-equipped for something. Vunerable. Taking up the gentle tools of motherhood and worrying about whether they were enough.
I told my mother about the dream. She agreed that it seemed like I was feeling ill-equipped. "Mom, is Sprout the bear?" please say no, please say no.
"Who is the bear?" I was panicked.
"Andrew is the bear."
I think she is right. Andrew is the bear. The night I had the dream followed a day when Andrew was, well, a bear. His "no's" were mean and emphatic. And plentiful. By the time I put him to bed I felt like I had been yelled at all day. And, I had. I felt spent and powerless, angry and tired. I was amazed at how hard parenting is. I thought I would be a confident, excellent parent. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I taught a roomful of nutty 5 year olds for 5 years. I know how to handle bad behavior. I know how to keep my cool.
But teaching and parenting are very different. And it is a lot easier when other people's kids are bears. It is not as close. It is not as personal.
Today my little bear is remarkably well-behaved. I tell him it is time to change his diaper and he comes for a diaper change chanting "diaper change! diaper change!" instead of "NO! NO! NO!" He is engaging and smiling and funny. And I am soaking it in. Enjoying it while I can. Because I know there are lots of sides to my little bear. And the grumpy bear is bound to come back.
By the way, my mom was relieved that I was not holding the hunting rifle. I guess the broken crayon wasn't so bad after all.