Tuesday, March 28, 2006

night terrors

Last night, only a few hours after he'd gone to bed, S woke up screaming. I ran upstairs, pretty alarmed because he is usually the best sleeper in the house, and found him sitting up in bed.

"What's the matter?" I asked, sitting down on the edge of his bed.
"I had a horrible nightmare," he said. "I dreamt that I grew up and didn't become famous!" And with that, he started crying.

Yes, my fears have been confirmed. My son has inherited the dreaded prodigy wannabe gene.

"Oh baby," I said, trying to sound soothing, "it's okay if you're not famous. What's most important is that you're a good person." He stopped crying and looked at me as if I were insane (something that I'm starting to get very used to).

"No, it's not," he said. "If I'm not famous, how will I get written into history? And then how will people remember me when I die?"

I didn't have an answer for him because I'm still trying to recover from the fact that I most likely missed the path to fame and fortune. And though I do know that being a good person, a good mother, and a good friend is really what counts at the end, it would be nice to also have a satisfied ego. Isn't it possible to have both?

But as a parent who is trying to be responsible, what do I do here? I'm afraid I didn't do the right thing. I told him he was so young that we didn't even know exactly what his talents were, but that if being famous was his goal, he most certainly could do it if he were driven enough. Which is true, I'm sure... But is it good to teach my five year old that ego feeding is a good thing, especially since this kind of ego drive is all about being important? Or this just some sort of age-appropriate growth development stage where he's simply trying to discover his role in this world?

I hoped that what he'd come away from the talk was just the fact that he did seem to feel comforted by the fact that he had a lot of time to do the work he wanted to, as opposed to me. ("Wow, Mommy... Does it make you sad that you're too old to be famous?") Either way, I figured he wouldn't even remember the dream the next morning.

I was wrong about him remembering, though. This morning as he ate his breakfast (peanut butter and honey on a frozen waffle is his current fave), he said, "Oh, Mom, that was a terrible dream last night. It was almost as bad as when I dreamed that George Bush ruled the world."


1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Aww! He's so innocent and it's all so bittersweet. I recently read an Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) quote that said something like, "Life really isn't what we thought it would be when we were 8 years old..." How sad. But, you know, as mothers, we *do* write history, really. :)

(Hope you're feeling well! It's getting close now, isn't it?!)