Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Wish Your Heart Makes

That's my bedspread.  OK.  It's Oreo's bedspread.
Our dog is spoiled.  I could try to justify this with all sorts of anecdotes, circumstances, and true-life struggles, but the reality is that my husband and I ruined him.  Oreo is reasonably assured that he's just a human in a dog suit, and we do little in the way of actually discouraging him.  He's not a pet: he's a member of the family.  When Oreo decided to get into Sean's work bag and consume weapon lubricant, we didn't think twice about accepting the charges for calling Poison Control just to have them say take him to a vet (after hours on Labor Day).  By the time we had cleaned him up and done damage control on the already pathetic carpets and made the cross-town trek to the emergency vet, Oreo had perked up and was the social butterfly of the waiting room.  When he broke his back, we didn't bat an eye at the expense of emergency surgery (on Memorial Day weekend, of course) and the extended boarding with our vet to recuperate.  We would rather figure out what to cut from the budget than deny our first child what was needed.  When Oreo re-injured his back while Sean was in Afghanistan and I was transitioning a three year-old Sweet Girl to preschool for the first time with an infant Little Man on my hip, I was beside myself that our vet may not be able to help him.  And when the prescription was for steroids, pain pills, limited movement, and no stairs for a month, I carried 45 pounds of black-and-white fur and horrible breath up and down the deck and bonus room stairs for a month; even when Oreo thought he was ready to take them on.  I didn't always smile about it, but seeing your fur baby in pain makes a lasting impression.  For all intents and purposes, Oreo recovered and returned to his "normal" self both after his surgery and his subsequent flare-ups.  He rocked a reverse mohawk for a time and we discovered that his skin is white with black spots to match his fur.  He doesn't have complete feeling and control over his hind legs still; he walks with what Aunt Carrie calls "drunk butt." However, when healthy, he's your average everyday senior citizen arthritic dog with a proclivity for rotisserie chicken and sporting serious identity issues.

After all that, it will come as no surprise that Oreo sleeps in bed with us.  Neither Sweet Girl nor Little Man have slept a night in our bed, but Oreo does every night.  He is, in fact, one of the reasons we upgraded to a king. You remember I said he's spoiled, right?  Oreo has a tendency to sleep as close to one of us as humanly (caninely?) possible.  It's as if he's trying to assert that, though he didn't actually come from one of us, he totally could have.  See? I fit right.here!  Because of this closeness, I know all about Oreo's sleep patterns.  He snores.  Pretty loudly, as a matter of fact.  I can tell by how he lifts his head up if he's going to actually jump out of bed and beg to be taken out to bark at the deer and claim our backyard with total nocturnal urine domination, or if he's just smelling the air to ensure there is still air to be smelled.  And I know that he dreams.  He barks and chuffs in his sleep.  He howls sometimes.  And in his dreams, Oreo runs.  He has covered more miles with his hind legs churning the covers than Little Man probably has in his life.  In Oreo's dreams, he doesn't have "drunk butt" and he doesn't have to take a jogging start to handle changes in elevation.  Oreo races through the landscape in his dreams as he did in his younger uninjured and arthritis-free youth.  Any challenges to his mobility seem to disappear when Oreo dreams.
Don't be fooled.
They're never this happy for bed time.

I watched Oreo run down his dreams last night and I wondered what my kids see and feel in their dreams.  In Sweet Girl's and Little Man's respective dreams: do they remain the same in a different world?; do they change in a consistent and constant reality?; do they see themselves as children with challenges?; do they see themselves as "normal" kids?; do they see themselves as the same kids but in a world that is built for them?; do they dream at all?  I don't know if they dream.  Sleep is often elusive for Sweet Girl though she is content to rest in her room until an appropriate time.  Someday I hope she and I agree upon what time is actually "appropriate." She used to wake herself up laughing in the middle of the night.  And then she was up.  While I loved hearing her giggle through the baby monitor - and it was at a time in our lives when laughter was on the rare side - I knew she needed more sleep and I envied the thing in her dream that knew how to unlock that precious sound while I floundered through the daylight hours trying just to make her comfortable.  Little Man is a better sleeper than his sister.  He will power nap in the car and wake up relatively easily.  He does pose a challenge to nap time at school, but he sleeps well overnight and given the opportunity would sleep until that "appropriate" time to wake up.  But I don't know if either of them dream when their eyelids fall heavy and their thick eyelashes rest peacefully upon their full and freckled cheeks.

I've asked a couple of times.  I've told them some of my dreams.  The ones in which we travel together or are on an adventures.  But it hasn't sparked any sharing.  If they dream, they are the only ones privy to what transpires.  I wonder if their dreams have them as the stars.  I wonder if they live their favorite days that we've had.  Do they have better days? I wonder if in their dreams, they can tell me anything without struggling for words.  I wonder if language is easy for them.  I wonder if in their dreams, it doesn't matter if we do something in order or if we serve the same meal on the same day of the week.  Or maybe in their dreams, the world sees all of that as normal.  In their dreams are Sweet Girl and Little Man more like me and less like themselves?  Wouldn't that be easier: horribly, boringly, plainly, easier for everyone around them?  In their dreams do they make friends easily?  Or do they find friends who like them for who they are and not in spite of who they are?  Or in their dreams are they alone and happy?  Are they surrounded by a world of their making that is perfectly suited for them?  In their dreams are they the same?  Like Oreo, do they dream away the things that make them uniquely who they are?  Would I know the Sweet Girl and Little Man that live in their dreams?  They may never be able to tell me, but I hope that I would know them.  I hope that if a dream is wish your heart makes, they don't wish they were different.  I certainly don't.

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