Guest post: The stuff dreams are made of

Molly formerly-Forbes-now-Weaver-except-for-professional-gigs blogs hilariously and thoughtfully at Mother’s Always Right. I’ve been stalking reading Molly for quite some time and was thrilled when she agreed to throw some words our way. Here she tries to decipher the meaning of her non-toddling toddler Frog’s dreams.

The stuff dreams are made of. Or not.

My daughter has started dreaming. I know this fact with unwavering certainty because I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in more than a week.

The dreams began with the occasional cry in the middle of the night. Nothing major, just a little shout here and there. The reluctant teeth, hiding out under the gums, were inevitably blamed and we all went back to sleep. But then the dreams went up a notch.

There’s nothing spookier than going to calm your crying 17 month old, to discover her lying fast asleep in her cot. It’s the type of experience that’s particularly unwelcome for ghost-phobic types like me, who stupidly choose to live in houses over 500 years old.

I eventually pinpointed the dreams when I brought my daughter into my bed one night. The screams were so loud that by 3am I didn’t have a choice. I needed sleep so the husband was pushed out of bed onto the sofa downstairs and the non-toddling toddler (what do you call a non-walking child of 17 months, by the way?) settled in next to me.

Instantly she fell into a deep, peaceful sleep. For about twenty minutes. And then she sat bolt upright – eyes still closed – and murmured “Mummy”. This was followed by more peaceful sleep, interrupted by another “Mummy”, punctuated by a “tiger”, “woof” and something incomprehensible.

And it was at that moment it dawned on me: my daughter’s dreaming. About me. And tigers. Going “woof”. Hang on a minute, who’s the one going “woof”? She better not be dreaming that I’m a dog. Perhaps she’s dreaming that I’m being eaten by a tiger. What’s worse – being a dog or being eaten by a tiger? And so on and so forth. So consumed was I in trying to unravel these potential dreams, that I didn’t get a wink of sleep for the rest of the night.

So I Googled.

The “Why is my 17 month old daughter dreaming of tigers and does it mean she wants me eaten” search proved fruitless. On simplification I came up with an interesting article about when human beings begin to dream. Turns out no one really knows. Some scientists reckon dreaming could start as early as pre-birth, with foetuses of around 23 weeks experiencing dream sleep. Others argue that children don’t properly dream until they’re around five years old.

And then there’s the whole classification of dreams thing. My idea of dreaming mainly involves Gary Barlow, turning up late for work in just my pants and a recurring nightmare about ducks and ghosts (don’t ask). But I rather doubt the same could be said of a foetus – or even a five year old child come to think of it. So when does a dream become a dream? Is it when we remember them? When we can speak and, therefore, tell everyone about them? Or is it when we’re caught red-handed, dreaming of our mothers turning into dogs and being eaten by tigers?

It’s definitely a question worth sleeping on, if only my dreaming daughter would let me.