“I want to finish my dream mamma,” Re often says as I wake him these days. I know the weather is lovely and perhaps it makes for better dreams too, and better dreams can only mean better stories and better conversations. I often envy him for having whole, vivid dreams, full of texture and detail, unlike my fractured, jagged, muddly ones with rough edges.
These days he dreams a lot about mermaids (ever since he requested me for a mermaid tail which would help him turn into one) and once he told me I woke him just as he was about to turn into a mermaid. I felt really guilty about that.
Some days I wish I could have the sleep of my childhood when dreams were things you slept for. Once in a while, when I do have them, and I wake up thinking of them, I do try and go back to sleep, before my rational mind gets in the way.
Re once told me, “You can change your dreams mamma!” It seems all you have to do is think really hard about what you want your dream to be just before you go to bed.
“I always change my dreams,” he said. It is when I realized that as adults, we accept reality too easily. We give up on dreams and the world of magic too easily. We have become unidentifiable versions of our little selves.
But our dreams can still save us.
As you read this column, Re will be turning six. I have never really kept track of his milestones but felt the urge to google six year-olds and read the various newsletters baby experts have been relentlessly sending me since Re was a little life brewing inside of me. I read, among other things, that at six, the child is now at the centre of his universe. That he is more of a lot of things – more mature, more adventurous, more independent, more daring. What bothered me was the bit about “relationship with mothers being difficult”. I can feel that already. I also googled some key strategies to cope, and found them in excerpts from Louis Bates Ames Book, Your six year old: Loving and Defiant and some of them were: minimal direct commands, sidestepping, bargaining, not noticing, ignoring or giving more chances. I smiled, realising I need more ammunition now.
For the last two years, birthdays have meant a big deal to Re and he has already become somewhat of an expert in carefully choreographing all our birthdays, his being the most important, of course. This year, he told me. “On my birthday, I will do whatever I want to do for the whole day and you must not tell me what to do.” I quickly agreed, remembering what I read in the key coping strategies.
I remember buying the children’s book of poetry, Now We Are Six, by A .A Milne long before I had a child (I used to, at the time, make excuses for buying children’s books which I always enjoyed more than adult books, I don’t have to make those excuses anymore) and this poem beautifully encapsulates what being a six year-old is:
“Now We Are Six”
When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.
So my little wish for my not so little boy is the gift of dreams. It’s the only thing that will last a lifetime, if he lets it. So dream all the things you want, because if you can dream it, you can make it real.
(A version of this post appeared as my column in Pune Mirror on 22nd June, 2015)