This column was originally posted on July 17, 2013:
My 8 year-old nephew is here with his sisters enjoying a summer vacation with their grandparents, who live near us on the other side of the farm, and we sat and talked for awhile last evening. He has been having bad dreams…well, one bad dream that recurs time and again, and his description of this dream is something like the great classic pieces of literature that have survived the ages! Now, don’t get me wrong about him. He knows exactly how to act his age and he is boy through and through (just ask us about the time he decided to hook one end of a bungee cord to his electric scooter and the other end to our swingset and then took off), but when he began to tell me about this dream he sat up straight and tall in his chair; even his voice went an octave lower than normal. His eyes were focused straight as an arrow, though not looking right at me, but somewhere off in the distance as he shared his story.
It is a simple dream really, no people other than himself and no elaborate sets – just a very deep and very dark lake, a seemingly endless wooden bridge, and a large circle that turns around in the middle of the lake. The bridge leads to the circle, always to the circle, no matter which way you are walking on the bridge. He says, “I just want to get somewhere else and find people, but the bridge keeps bringing me right back to the middle of this big lake and I end up sitting on this circle…thinking and thinking.”
Read his quote there one more time. Do you see it? That is a STORY my friends. He is a writer, a storyteller, a master at describing what he knows…and he doesn’t even realize it yet. My kids and yours are the same. They have stories to tell, things they know and understand that rest rumbling somewhere inside them just waiting to make their debut, to share with someone, anyone, who acts like they want to listen.
Something in the telling of his bad dream has helped my nephew, at least for now. We ended up deciding the stuff going on in his dream could really be quite an adventure after all, so he is making himself a boat out of different objects lying around the house and is going to sleep with it. I imagine you too can see the logic in creating such a boat. If you can’t, ask your kids and I bet they can tell you…all they’ll need is a moment of your time.