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“Dreaming” Time

My two-year-old son and I love to lie in bed in the morning. He wakes up, announces himself by saying something like, “More patty [pacifiers], Mommy,” I help him find the second pacifier (he loves to have two pacifiers when he is bed), and then we continue to simply lie in bed. He is quiet, so am I. It’s nice.

Yes, I’ve always liked to lie in bed after I wake up. During the week, and on weekends. With someone, or alone. It never mattered. What mattered most was silence. I had to have silence. On the mornings when I didn’t get enough sleep, I’d be more asleep than awake. But that didn’t matter, part of me was awake, and that time still counted as that time. Silence full of … stuff. Imaginary dialogues with people from my life who made me happy or angry, the day before or five years ago, dialogues that indeed happened, or those I wanted to happen. Bits and pieces of the dialogues the fictional characters from my stories might have the next time I sit to write. Ideas for new characters, new stories, new story endings.

And once you are at this place of “dreaming,” it’s so hard to leave it. Simply get out of bed. Jump to your feet. Open your eyes to face your messy room, the chilly air, the light. Whatever. Five more minutes. Ten more minutes. Oh, shit, it’s already quarter to eight. Five more minutes will be OK. God, it’s already …. eight. Just another minute. And another. And another. Oh, God, I should be ready to leave right now, and I am not. I am still in bed. Oh, God, will I ever be able to change this? Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to get up ON time and leave early and not have to run to … wherever.

This was my story when I was in high school. This was my story when I was a student at the University of Belgrade. This became my story even when I came to the US where people REALLY appreciated punctuality. And this is not to say that I had ever been irresponsible because I always worked hard, really hard, at anything I cared for. I stayed late, and at times I even got up early (and even sacrificed that time) just to finish whatever I was working on in the best possible way I could. But that didn’t mean that somewhere along that path of hard work I wasn’t late in some way, in some form. Simply because I am always, always, always late in some way, in some form. That same minute, or five minutes, or ten minutes when I am simply not ready to get out of bed and stop “dreaming,” or I am not ready to simply stop whatever I am doing to get ready to go do something else.

That has been my story all my life. It still is. But now I have a two-year-old son. He is a sponge. A portable tape recorder. He proves that every day. Did I just say the SH word? I tossed my dirty socks from the middle of the room into the dirty laundry bin. He will too, a minute later. He is learning how to be in this world, he is learning something 24/7. And I am teaching him to lie in bed in the morning, not to get up quickly to rush to do things. (Of course, we love to do things, but that comes later, when we are dressed, fed, and armed with tens of snacks and our water bottles). But right now, the shadow of a dream just behind our back, we are lying in bed and sifting through our thoughts.

I can’t avoid feeling guilty sometimes. Am I training my son to repeat my pattern of lateness? What’s going to happen next year when he starts preschool? We will have to limit the time we spend lying in bed in the morning. We will have to try not to be late. Or, I will have to try not to be late, I will have to try to be on time harder than I have tried anything else. Because this battle will not be just about me. It will primarily be about my son who is just learning about this world.

And then when I am at the deepest of my guilt, I remember how much good my “dreaming time,” as I tend to call it, has done for me. Of course, it took me some time to notice the benefits. When I was maybe nine or ten, my father would step into my room for the tenth time in the morning and say, in a slightly angered but controlled voice, You are awake. You have been awake for all this time. Why don’t you just get up? Just get up, OK? (My dad, my dad who didn’t have any difficulty jumping out of bed in the middle of the night, getting dressed within minutes and driving to the hospital to cut someone’s belly open.) I felt guilty, but I still couldn’t let go of my “dreaming” time.

But when I was fourteen or fifteen I realized that if only I spent some extra time in bed the morning before my “composition test” (something we did four times a year, wrote on a specific topic in class, and were graded, and the grade carried a lot of weight), then maybe it wouldn’t be so hard for me to write in class (instead of spending most of the class time staring at the blank sheet of paper wrestling with unhatched ideas I had difficulty putting down on paper). I started feeling good about my lying in bed in the morning.

Since that time, I always had the greatest respect for my “dreaming” time. And some sort of (maybe subconscious) commitment to it. And commitment to guilt. Now add a child to the equation. I want to teach him what I know. The “dreaming” time has been a pleasure and a tool, and I’d definitely like to pass it on to him. But not combined with lateness. Maybe my son will strike a balance between dreaming and punctuality. Maybe not. In the meantime, we are enjoying our “dreaming” time. I sometimes wonder what he is thinking about. I want to play with Taya (his friend Cara) is what he sometimes end our “dreaming” time with? Hoces da se igras sa Karom? I repeat in Serbian. And we plunge into our day.

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  1. Bob DiNardo
    October 12, 2011 at 3:34 am

    This is only the second day I’ve visited your blog, but I now know I’ll be looking forward to it on a daily basis. Whatever you do, please, keep a close eye on what you’re doing here. It reads like the basis for a story, if not a book.

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