This post just jumped the queue – I was sitting down to write about something else, woke, in fact, at 2 am and had it in my head, when I heard Daoud crying upstairs, full on panicked crying, not the kind of cry that comes about when they’re just trying to get your attention but the kind that happens of its own accord. I bolted from the couch. What followed was a jumbled explanation of tears and words until I’d extracted the meaning. A car had come in through the backyard, hit him, and now he was dead.
I held him and hugged him and promised him I would keep him safe; I tried going the “it was just a dream” route, but he didn’t buy it. It was for real. It happened before we went to sleep. We went around in circles here for a while before I realized the futility: a) he doesn’t truly understand what a dream is vs. his imagination vs. something that might still happen in the future vs. something that happened in the past that he either doesn’t remember or wasn’t around for. b)he doesn’t understand dead beyond the fact that it’s not what we want to be right now. So he doesn’t get that it’s permanent, that the car couldn’t make him dead and then we could still be having this conversation in his room on his bed. Attempting to appeal to that logic was pointless.
I shifted gears (and I apologize for the use of that awful metaphor). I told him that if a car were ever to hit him, God had created me to love him, my kid, so much, that he’d make me able to lift the car so he wouldn’t die. He loved this – there was a moment of bewildered joy followed by delighted laughter, and then he was remembering the dream again. He was crying. I asked him what hurt and he pointed to his knees (remember the bandaids?) “I”m bleeding again!”
I kissed his knees. I brought him back – we read Quran, lay down, and he fell back asleep. And now I can’t. There are so many intangibles where words fail me when I want to explain something to this curious, questioning little boy. Whatever words I use in one explanation make their way back in another where they have no business being – reality is warped. He thinks he can go to outer space any time he wants, and we’re just not letting him. He thinks his dream actually happened. He thinks eventually I’ll be a baby again. What is the response for that? “Oh, I don’t think so Darling. You see, time is linear.” Try telling a four year-old time is linear. See where that gets you. I dare you.
My hope is that we’ll get to the morning and he’ll feel better, and the dream will fade. We wait and see.