Dream Catcher

Last night, or more properly early this morning, my eldest son, Mackenzie, had his first real nightmare. Now when I say ‘eldest’ I should point out that he is only three years old – well, closer to four than three but still a baby, really. And when I say first ‘real’ nightmare he has had a few other nights where he has woken up and we (me and Carole – my wife, his mother :) ) have thought that it was most likely to be a nightmare as there was no other explanation … last night, however, was completely different: he woke with a scream, was sobbing, couldn’t be consoled and actually spoke about the bad people scaring him.

This may sound harsh, or make us sound like bad parents, but we have always tried to be pretty firm with the fact that both boys (we have another one, Nathaniel, who is 21 months old) stay in bed at night unless they are sick … so we told Mackenzie that things would be ok and that he would have to go back to bed. He completely and utterly broke down – tears streaming, breathing so hard that he couldn’t speak until finally he said that he wanted to stay with us, or us sleep with him, where he was safe.

He broke both of our hearts.

But we couldn’t change the rules.

I had an epiphany and jumped out of bed, telling Carole to carry Mackenzie into his bedroom. On the way in I grabbed one of my dream catchers (I have many of them, all around the house – even have a tattoo of one), a small leather necklace one, and sat on Mackenzie’s bed, him on my lap, and told him a story about a dream catcher and how it had a very important job to do: to catch the bad dreams, keeping them locked away, and only allow the good dreams pass through. I tied the dream catcher around his bed, right above the centre, where he sleeps, and told him that everything would be ok.

He asked me if I was sure.

I told him of course I was.

He smiled, he kissed me, and he lay down – touching the dream catcher before telling me that he loved me.

He broke our hearts again – but in the good way that every parent knows.

This morning (later on, nearly at the time regular folks get up anyway ;) ), after sleepin through the night, he came bounding into our room, face blazing with a huge smile, and told us that it had worked; he had only dreamt good dreams – pirates who could take their bottoms off and kept losing them, for some reason.

Words have power, I have always known this or I wouldn’t have such a love of reading (let alone a desire to write) but last night – when I saw how my words could change my son’s life, could turn his fear into excitement – I rediscovered it all over again.

Words are my dream and I am always trying to catch them.