I love my dreams – even the bad ones. I believe that while my bedding covers my body and keeps it warm, my dreams peel back the covers of my thoughts and my emotional state and let me see what lurks beneath the surface. Sometimes it is dirty socks, sometimes it is a long lost but cherished earring. I’m fascinated by the story lines my head builds to put structure around the discovery process.
Last night it was Tertia who camped out in my brain. Not the real Tertia – I have never met her but I do read Tertia’s blog.
In our story Tertia’s company was giving her a big going away party because she had decided to quit work and stay home with the babies. I decided to fly to South Africa to go to the party.
This is remarkable in more ways than one. Firstly, I am a party pooper. Unless I am the one giving the party I often won’t go. I will not travel for 1/2 an hour to go into San Francisco for a party. Getting to South Africa requires a 23 hour flight. From my party behavior you might conclude that J. D. Salinger and Brigitte Bardot got nothin’ up on me in the anti-social department but that would only be if you aren’t one of my coffee buddies. I’m really good at going out for coffee and I love my bookgroup – I just don’t go to many parties.
Second, Tertia loves her job and needs the money and has no intention of quitting. It might be worth noting that I did a little snooping around and it seems she and I have a similar professional background so that is probably how I ended up having a dream set in a work party for her.
Anyhow, getting back to the dream….I went to Tertia’s party and there she was, short hair, medium height, wearing a drab gray business suit, average build. As far as I can tell the real Tertia is tall and thin and has long hair and is gorgeous and divine but in my dreams she was really, really average. The party turnout was spectacular, though. There must have been 100 people there and they got her a sheet cake of remarkable proportions. It was the kind with the nasty lard and confectioners sugar frosting and the big, gloppy flowers and swirly things – the kind I hate. She gave a speech about how sad she was to be leaving and others gave speeches about how fabulous she was to work with and how much they would miss her and when the coffee and champagne came out and the real party started I left (no surprise there).
I went back to Chez Tertia to care for her child – a single 2 year old boy. I’m pretty sure this reflects my inherent belief that even in my dreams I could not handle twins. I adore 2 year old boys, though so there he was. My job was to keep him happy and to keep him from drowning in the pool out back, a job was I not entirely successful at.
Another important personal reference is needed here. I have a swimming pool in my back yard and when my kids were little I was terrified of them drowning. The first thing we did when we moved in to this house was to put a cast iron fence around the immediate perimeter of the pool We kept it padlocked at all times. These are the kind of locks that have a dial where you have to turn once to the right, twice to the left and once to the right, hitting the 3 numbers exactly. We kept our BBQ inside the pool area and I always locked the gate after I lit the fire and then again after I put the chicken on to cook. I knew that if I left the gate unlocked and turned my back that would be the one 32 second interval in which one of the kids would get in there and either incur 3rd degree burns on their precious faces or fall in the pool, inhale water and die instantaneously. On more than one occasion I found myself frantically spinning the lock as a flames shot skyward, consuming my chicken. We learned to enjoy what I dubbed ‘pool blackened chicken’. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I’m a vegetarian today.
Anyhow, while I was watching the little boy he decided to start walking on top of the pool cover which was a piece of heavy duty bubble wrap type stuff. It won’t really hold any weight but in my dream it did. It held him until he almost got to the edge and then it failed and he went under the water. I wasn’t worried, though. I just reached in and was fishing him out – just as Tertia and Marko were returning from the party.
I was chagrined. I had failed as a babysitter which of course meant I was a failure as a parent.
My 16 year old daughter went to the midnight showing of Star Wars last night. She is a wonderful kid – focused on school, sociable, does not drink or use drugs, is not having sex with anyone and will most certainly be a huge success in life. Both my other kids are high school graduates and now college students and doing really well. All 3 of them are notably fine individuals, feedback I get from other adults on a regular basis. But allowing my high school student to go to a midnight movie on a school night is bad parenting, right? Not fatally bad parenting, not even really a problem – just conceptually bad parenting.
And so my friends of young children, be forewarned – you never lose your fear of being a failure as a parent no matter how great your kids are.