from july, 2009:
Jude has a concept of himself that is other than his physical being. When we discuss his nighttime dreaming, he describes it as going up and out into his dreams, and then back into his heart, or what he’s also called “coming back to my house,” referring to himself, touching his chest, as he says it. This hits me like a bucket of lead. For all of the talking we grown ups do, for all of the books we write and deep shit we like to think we get into, there it is. For me, lying there next to my son at bed time, there it is. The reals, yo. The reals.
A couple of months from five years-old now, my son talks about his dreams to me. They’re the usual. They integrate movie characters, like Eva from WALLE, who was keeping Jude from climbing down from his cousin’s bunk bed in one somnambulant excursion. He theorizes what his dreams will be tonight. “Maybe I’ll go into the woods and shoot all of the animals so they won’t eat me.” “Maybe I’ll go up off the planet and into space and see my friends there.” He seems a little uneasy about some of these, and I tell him that dreams are an adventure, and that no matter what, he’ll always come right back and wake up and be safe. I tell him it’s like he’s in a little egg while he’s dreaming, flying around, going from one place to the next, always safe, always to return. But he’s already gotten that sense, he doesn’t need me to come up with some half-cocked metaphor. The kid already knows.
It makes me rethink our whole idea of identity, laying there and watching him in the fading light of the bedroom. His eyes sparkle and he looks up into the room, toward some interior landscape. His sense of himself is his name. He can respond to it, say it, spell it. But that’s not it. He knows his body. He knows his brain, his heart, his peepee – all the important parts. And that’s not it. I get this distinct, intangible sense of his sense as we’re talking. It comes to me in a feeling, in a wave. He really has this kind of incorporeal sense of himself. He recognizes some sort of quintessence, something without form we can understand, or name, but only through concept, and with the kind of accepting immediacy of a child. Of an unfettered mind. “I’ll go up into my dreams,” he says, referring, as it see it, to the Unconscious, to Atman, Brahmin, and even more still – “I’ll go up and into my dreams and have abentures (how he pronounces “adventures”) and then I’ll come back down into my house.” And his small, creampuff hand comes down on his chest, and his eyes sparkle.
“Yes,” I say to him, “that’s exactly right.” And because I can’t resist, I tell him, “and you’ll be safe the whole time, because all the angels will be watching you.”
It doesn’t feel to me like I’m filling his head with nonsense. It doesn’t feel like I’m a priest telling fairy tales to superstitious old ladies. He turns to look at me in the gloom and it feels just right. He doesn’t say anything, and I tell him goodnight, and kiss him for the thousandth time.
This is my life. More importantly, I have to keep reminding myself, this is his life.
Off you go, Jude. Off you go to fly into your dreams, and when you come back to your house, I’ll be waiting nearby.