Friday, March 21, 2008

the bear

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.


Tara Whalen said...

I hate how hard parenting can be, but I love doing it!

You can beat any bear with that blue crayon!

Holly said...

There are definitely days when I feel like I've been yelled at all day by my 2 year old too! Somedays I swear he only has a one-word vocabulary-NO! But, he'll eventually grow out of it and so will Andrew and then we'll probably find ourselves missing these times! (Well, maybe not!) Interesting how our dreams can help us work out our insercurities...I'm thankful I also have your Mom to help me interpret!

thedanceofthegates said...


Also because we use the term "mother bear" to describe a face of parenting.

That's just my free association.

Firefly said...

I love how the titles says, "the bear," and then there is a picture of a baby chickadee cookie with a blue ribbon tied around its neck.


Melissa said...

Do you have more interesting dreams when you are pregnant? I think, for me, it's the only time I have really crazy dreams.

Dealing with the bear that Andrew can be must be so difficult for you- especially when you are in such a tired vulnerable state right now.

I am reading "How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk." The first line says something like, "I was a good parent until I became a parent." That has been very true for me.