Violet would laugh if I told her this dream of mine.
She’s 7, and her imagination is about as deep and wonderful as they come, but I still get the feeling that she’d look at me for a second like I’m nuts if I told her. Then, without a word, she’d simply go back to playing her computer games or pick up where she left off fighting with her brothers.
That’s the trouble with dreams. You can’t just go around sharing them all the time. You end up sounding like a whack job. People love that sh*t. People WANT to hear your insane dreams so that they can raise an eyebrow, maybe grin a condescending grin, and then throw a party back behind their face. A party where they hoot and holler in wild celebration at the fact that you..YOU, big dream sharer…are way way more scrambled eggs in the head than they will ever be.
I’m trying to navigate a very dark and treacherous sea over here all alone, y’all. Single dad raising three kids, one of them a little girl, what have I got to lose, you know?
I dreamed Violet was in high school. She’s not. She’s just started second grade. But I dreamed of the future. I was a dad to a teenage daughter.
What does that mean?
Besides that I’m probably over-caffeinated and sleeping on a haystack of anxiety every single night of my damn life?
I have no idea.
But I’m thinking it probably means that I’m thinking about V. And that I’m going crazy half the time when I do.
In the dream, she seemed fine. It’s me that freaked me out. Because I’m in the dream too. Or I was.
We were in her school together. I was a student, same as her. And I kept bugging her in the halls. It was embarrassing, to be honest. I didn't even want to be doing it but it was like I couldn’t help myself or something. I kept running into her in this crowded, noisy hallway and as soon as I’d see her I’d start firing questions at her above the roar of hundreds of kids headed to their next class.
I can’t remember most of what I was saying. It was more like I had this feeling upon seeing her face that I NEEDED to know stuff.
There’s Violet! Ooooh, I’ve got to get to her! I’ve got to see what she says!
I recall a sense of urgency to it all that, if I tried to explain it to her somehow, would probably be the thing that convinced her that her own Dad must be true basket case i every sense of the word.
I don’t think that’s the case here, though. I’m biased obviously, but I’m almost certain that I was trying to help her somehow. Or help me. Or help me help her.
Okay, maybe I am a basket case.
We’re still years away from middle school and I’m already sweating my daughter’s high school experience?
Each of us, as parents, we have this ember embedded deep within our chest. It’s a hot coal lit up by true love, and it shines harder than any feeling/pang/or certainty that we have ever known before. You can fall in love with another human at Mach 9, dude, losing every possible facet of your sh*t and your cool and your sense in the beautiful face of total obsession flying out in front of your eyes.
But it all pales so cheaply when you try and hold it up next to the love you feel once your first kid is born. It just does. Everyone can cop to that. Even people without kids usually will admit that it’s likely and true.
So I suppose our dreams, or my dreams as it may be, they must be some kind of fishbowl window wrapped around what’s bugging me down deep, right? Or maybe not bugging me, but more like itching me bad. Making me nervous. Or making me wonder. Or scaring me clearly from years down the road.
I have know many nights when I shoot up straight in my bed, hurled from a deep sleep against the headboard above me, all in the name of some awful, terrible vision of my own children’s fate. A glimpse I’d just had on the inside of a dream.
Do you have those?
Are we allowed to admit them?
Is dreaming about your toddler stepping on a rattlesnake out behind your mom’s lawnmower shed normal? Is it okay? Or is there a pill some Big Pharma has come out with to help you never dream so dark as that?
I’ve dreamed of horrific car crashes. And one of them drowning in the lake while I’m at the snack bar. And school shootings and choking on hot dogs I didn’t slice up enough and even falling off cliffs, so vividly, that I must be holding their tiny hand as they slip, because I can see it all too.
I shoot up in the night. But I don’t know what to think.
Violet in high school seemed alright. She seemed calm and happy in the halls. But I didn’t for some reason. I was worried, agitated. There were things I needed to ask and know.
Maybe I’m just dreaming of being a dad to a daughter.
Maybe I’m just nightmaring out on my own terrible cluelessness.
It’s too early to tell. It’s too late to say. There are no answers. I can’t even hear the f*cking questions, dude.
But I’m out there, in the darkest parts of the night, concerned to the point of awake.
Looking out for her, even as we dream.