Thursday, March 26, 2009

There is a lobster in my bed!

My two girls both started having blood curdling cry out in the middle of the night dreams starting at about 2.5 years old. The kind of dreams where I am sure a stranger is murdering them in their beds. The obvious reaction to such screams when I am dead asleep is to jump out of bed and race to their rooms, heart pounding out of my chest, adrenaline rushing through my nervous system as I prepare to take on the beast in the bedroom. Your brain doesn’t stop to think about the scream first. It just tells you to get to it as fast as you can. I am surprised every time I go through this routine that my heart doesn’t stop beating due to the shock of it all.

My youngest has just started having these night terror dreams. She sleeps through them only waking her self up once so far. My 5 year old Soren, wakes up and screams until you make it to her room. And then can give you detailed description of the offending creature or event. She is so convinced that the dream is real at times that she shakes like a leaf. When the girls started having dreams I would wonder what in the heck do they have to be scarred of. They were two! As Soren got older with the ability to describe her dreams I realized that the dreams of my children were just their brains way of working through anything that made them uncertain during the week. Maybe she observed ants working in the yard and was brave enough to pick one up only to have it bite her. Sure enough this is fodder for a really terrifying dream of ants crawling all over her in bed. This can’t and wouldn’t happen in real life but it is a terrifying thought to a three year old. A foot getting stuck in the couch crevice blossoms into the Lion at the zoo catching her and trying to eat her. I racked up the drama dreams to Soren just being a very creative and dramatic child. So of course she would have very dramatic dreams. When Ella started having them I told my self it was just a girl thing.

The reason that I have been giving this so much thought lately is that my boy Dunn (4) has just started to have bad dreams. He is 4! Why now? Why not at 2.5 like the girls? To top it off he reacts to his dreams in a completely different manner. No screaming. He is rational and methodical in his reaction to a perceived threat. I wake up to his feet hitting the wood floor. He walks calmly to my bedroom and says “Mom, there is a lobster in my bed”. We live in Minnesota so this is very funny to me. Smiling I say “ok, lets go check it out”. I take my brave little man by the hand and walk him back to his room. He is obviously scarred by the sight of his bed and clings to me. So I pick him up and say “see, no lobster”. He insists that there is indeed a lobster in his bed and that he can see him right there! When I tell him there can’t possibly be a lobster in his bed because lobsters live in the ocean and his bed is not an ocean he says “oh” and crawls back in and goes right to sleep. Every one of his bad dreams goes down something along those lines.

I of course see many differences between my girl’s brains and my boy’s brain through out the day. I am sure Dunn’s calm response to a potential threat has been programmed through the ions. As have many other attributes of his personality. The more I learn about his sweet little brain the more I understand my husband! I have aha moments where I want to give the big guy a squeeze for being such a man. I am embracing my boy’s boyisims and likewise reveling in my girl’s girlyness. I just wish the girls could do it less dramatically in the middle of the night!

The difference between the girls and the boy frequently remind me of all those fairytales where the prince comes to the fair maidens rescue. Such stories have offended me as a woman from time to time and I thought twice before reading such stories to my girls. But here is the deal. Maybe there is some truth to such fairytales. Maybe what allows us to be really successful woman is that we have a strong protective man standing behind us to slay the dragons. Vice versa, what allows the man to do the slaying is that we will admire his strength and bravery and reward his efforts with a nice steak dinner and probably a little hanky panky. I think it will take many more ions for this hard wired division of labor to change. I for one am not holding my breath. Nor can I say I would want it to change. I am a woman who can do everything with out the help of a man. But I am sure glad I have such a wonderful husband to do the car maintenance, take out the trash and lift really heavy stuff. All that “man” work frees me up to be a better mom. And I am pretty sure that all my “woman” work frees my husband up to be a better dad.

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