She's Just TOO Funny!!!
Have you ever wondered what a 3 1/2 year old dreams about? I have.
I remember back to when Ella was just a baby, asleep on the bed beside me, and she started to make little noises and I could tell that she was going into REM sleep, her eyes moving beneath her lids. I watched in fascination as she dreamed and because of her unconscious movement, I knew what she was dreaming! Believe it or not.
She opened her mouth very wide, then mostly closed it again, leaving an O-shaped opening, and then began to gently work her jaw up and down. After about a half a minute of this, her mouth closed into a small smile and she went into a different stage of sleep! She was, very obviously, having a happy dream about "milkies"! (I nursed her until she was around 2 years, 3 months old).
Well, a couple mornings ago, Ella woke up from having a nightmare. Whenever she first wakes up in the morning, she comes into our room and crawls into bed with us and sleeps and snuggles until it's get-up time. Usually this happens between 5 and 7 am, although there are occasions when at 1 or 2 am she pitter-patters in. If either of us realise a) that she's arrived (we sometimes sleep through this) and b) how early it is, we take her back to her own bedroom, settle her back into her own bed and tell her that it's still night time now, but that she can come back in to our room in the morning.
So, at the time of her nightmare (around 7 am), Ella had already come into our bedroom and was sprawled in between the two of us (why is it that the smallest person in the bed takes the most room???). Derek and I woke up instantly to her scream of "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" This was followed by to hair-raising, lengthy screeches (the child has LUNGS - and though she rarely does the screeching thing, when she does it really is LOUD), flailing limbs, and demanding, incoherent words. I think she may have been half-awake at that point.
She then rolled over towards Derek and started pushing and hitting at him, yelling, "No! No! Go away! Don't DO that!" At this point, I rolled her back towards me and told her, "Ella, wake up! You are having a nightmare." To which she responded by grabbing hold of me and repeating, "No! NO!!!!!"
She was now more-or-less awake, and she yelled, "I want Daddy to go away!" (At which point Daddy did - he couldn't do anything more there and he really needed to go to the bathroom!) I told her again, "Ella, it's NOT real. You were having a bad dream. Daddy didn't do anything."
"He did, he did," she sobbed. "And you did to! I'm mad at you!"
"Ella, we've been asleep here, right beside you. We didn't do anything. But in your dream we did do something, but only in your dream. Can you tell Mummy what happened in your dream?"
"I'm mad at you," she continued to sob, "I don't want Daddy anymore!"
"Ella, what did we do in your dream?"
In a sobbing, accusing voice that would have won the hearts of any jury, she accused us of the most neferious criminal activity! "You MIXED THE COLOURS!!!"
"What colours did we mix in your dream, Ella?"
"YOU MIXED UP ALL THE COLOURS OF MY PLAY-DOH! YOU MIXED THEM ALL UP AND MADE THEM MESSY!" This was followed by another round of sobs.
Needless to say, I wanted to laugh. I probably needed to laugh, but that moment of distress for her was not the time to do it! I was able to calm her down by pointing out that Mummy and Daddy really didn't mix up all the play-doh colours, that we didn't even have any play-doh! We needed to buy some new play-doh because all of the old stuff had become hard and icky.
Derek had long since returned from the bathroom - in time to hear her accusations of criminal activity, and though he didn't laugh out loud, the bed was shaking a lot for a while there... A few moments later, after the sobs had subsided, she rolled back over to her father, evidently having believed that it was indeed just a dream, and having forgiven him, because she asked, just like she asks every morning, "Daddy, can you make me some toast with brown sugar?" (her favourite breakfast food), "And can we watch a video?" So life was back to normal again...
The NEXT really funny thing happened at Tim Horton's (the cafe of choice in Canada - common, yes, but a good place just to meet and hang out with folks in the community) the following evening.
One of the things about being a Christian and about homeschooling is that you don't have to worry as much about things like Santa Clause and the Easter bunny. If you want your children to "believe" in them, then you can tell them all of the myths and fables associated with those seasons, but if you're like us, and don't want your children to truly "believe" in the existence of a large, hairy man, who is constantly spying on you, breaking and entering into your home yearly, but at the same time you don't want him/her to lose out on the fun that is associated with those belief, you can tell them the truth from the get-go (Ella has never thought that there was a "real" Santa Claus now, though she knows that there was a real Saint Nicholas) and then, with a wink and a nod, play along with the fables. For example, this past Christmas, depending on what we were doing, we would "be" Santa Claus (Ella'd be an elf), while getting presents ready, while wrapping, etc. She knew that Mummy and Daddy are "Santa Claus" for her, and that Mummy and she are "Santa Claus" for Daddy, and that Daddy and she are "Santa Claus" for Mummy. Rather than taking away from the magic of Christmas, this adds a whole dimension to our giving; it brings out our imaginations (can you imagine me "sitting" on Ella's lap, while she wears the Santa hat and says in as deep a voice as she can muster, "Ho Ho Ho... Now what do you want for Christmas, Mummy?"). I've never regretted the decision to tell my child the truth.
As for the Easter bunny. She knows that Mummy and Daddy play Easter bunny the night before Easter so that when she wakes up the "Easter bunny" (*wink* *wink* *nod* *nod*) has left chocolate eggs all over. But even though we play along with this, evidently she doesn't know that everyone else does too!
So, we're standing in line at Tim Horton's - me for my medium coffee one cream, and Ella for a milk and doughnut with "sprinklies". It's a long line up, and as usual, Ella is smiling at everyone. The lady who is in front of us smiles back and strikes up a conversation with Ella.
"Are you excited about Easter?"
"Yes!" says Ella. She knows Easter is when we celebrate that Jesus came to life again. We have lots of fun at church, and we sing and dance, and shout, and eat chocolate! What's not to love?
"And who is coming in three weeks?" the lady asks.
Ella doesn't get it. She looks at the lady, obviously confused. Was someone coming for Easter? Auntie Janis? No, Auntie Janis wasn't coming until Ella's birthday. Well, who is it then?
"He'll be bringing you yummy chocolate!" the lady continues.
Ella still doesn't know who it is, though she loves the idea of chocolate...
"He'll be going *hop* *hop* *hop*!" the lady adds, doing little hops each time.
We haven't gotten around to talking about the Easter bunny yet this year. Other Easter stuff, yes, but bunnies, no. It's so obvious that Ella is reaching for an answer that just isn't there. So the kind lady helps a little bit more...
"It's the Eeeeaaaster...." she says, pausing.
And enlightenment dawns! Ella's GOT it! She knows who's coming. "The Easter KANGAROO!!!!" she calls out, triumphant!
The entire store - that was watching this exchange with interest - burst out laughing!
I assured Ella that this year the Australians were getting in on the act, and that the Easter kangaroo would be helping the Easter bunny on his/her rounds. (I didn't tell the entire store - just Ella - that Daddy would be one and Mummy would be the other and we would go hopping around the house hiding eggs the night before Easter!)