I love reading bedtime stories. Both kids, now 9 and 7, are quite capable of reading their own stories, yet Jason still reads to Max and I read to Claire almost every night. I plan to continue to do this as long as they will let us. It’s such a high tech world, and I love the simplicity of this ritual every night. As much as it sometimes frustrates me, I also like the give and take of choosing stories with and for them and seeing which ones capture their imaginations and which ones flop. Still it’s possible I have been a little too enthusiastic about this routine over the years. The children have realized how much I love this ritual and are not afraid to bat their baby brown and blue eyes, respectively, and use this knowledge against me. They know I’m often good for an extra chapter or a discussion of the plot after the story is over. They love, go figure, to procrastinate bedtime.
At some point in the last year, Claire invented a whole new procrastination method and started insisting after the story on a dream suggestion. She has a dream catcher hanging in her room, and I think that was the initial prompt. It was just so cute the first few times I couldn’t help myself. Lately she has become more particular, and she is about to get to the point where she is so choosy that I am going to have to put an end to it. Her chief complaint is that she doesn’t like the dream suggestion to be too realistic. It sounds simple enough, but figuring out just what she means by that is tricky. Encountering unicorns is too realistic because obviously that could really happen to her. Unicorns that land on the playground at school and let you take turns flying on them is acceptable however. Sometimes. Max, not to be outdone, overheard this, and likes his own dream suggestions as well now although once he settles on a dream he is content to stick with it for a few days. Currently, it involves him leading a steam-powered airship full of third graders into the fourth dimension.
One night a few weeks ago, I decided to take a different approach. When Claire asked for a dream, I said “Let’s say Max outgrows his food allergy tomorrow morning.” She immediately dismissed me. “Too realistic. That’s a fact dream. It’s possible.” Next?! She didn’t want to entertain any more discussion on that subject.
A few nights later, I gave Max the same suggestion, and he was less dismissive. “That would be good,” he said slowly. I asked him what he would eat first. I was thinking we’d hit an ice cream or candy store. He had his own idea. “I’d want to follow the directions on the (instant) oatmeal package.” Me: “Huh?” “It says to mix with water or milk. I’d like to try milk.”
I know it really is the little things sometimes, but I surely didn’t see that one coming. He went on to add he’d trying buying, instead of bringing, his lunch to school and go to the potlucks at church. I knew he wanted to do both of those. I’d already been considering efforts to make them happen.
In retrospect, that whole exercise turned out to be a rather humbling experience for me. I felt like afterward that I wished I hadn’t brought it up. He is just so accepting of the allergy, that unlike me, I don’t think he spends that much time thinking about it unless it is there in writing on the oatmeal package or next to him at the lunch table or in the announcements at church. Certainly he doesn’t seem too upset about the ice cream parlor. That’s all me. I also think again unlike me he is careful not to get his hopes too high that he will outgrow the allergy. Still sometimes it’s fun to dream.