Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dreams and Fairytales

Last night I had a conversation with my niece, H, for over two hours.

I'd called her mother to discuss the last minute details of H's birthday party, which I'm hosting tomorrow, and she was impatient to talk to me, picking up the other extension and giggling cheekily over the line.

F & I had to tell her to wait for a bit because we had secret surprises to plan.

After we grown-ups had finished organising the Princess-themed party, the preparations for which I will blog about in another post, I settled in for a Friday evening of listening to H.

H will be 7 in a few days and her life has changed a great deal over the past year or so.

She started school and now she's reading. Over the phone, she read me six short books. They were a series of cookbooks that join together in a jigsaw. I learned recipes for, among other things, Easy-peasy Pizza and Strawberry Cups. When she didn't know a word she would spell it to me and I'd tell her what it was. She'd spell out '1-2-5-g-slash-going-to-the-right (I-know-my-right-and-left-now) 4-o-z'.

She noted that there was a 'dot-thing' between a couple of words. I clarified that it was a comma: a dot with a tail. She asked me what a comma was. I said it was part of what's known as punctuation. She asked me what punctuation was. I started to explain about full-stops and exclamation marks. She said that she knew about three of those kinds of marks: full-stops, exclamation marks ('a line with a dot') and question marks. Later in our conversation, she amended her knowledge to four, telling me she knew about hyphens too.

The other major change in H's life recently is that her parents have divorced after a separation of one year.

She told me about a bad dream she had. It was long and frightening.

The conversation came about because she asked me if there were crocodiles at my place. I said there probably was, because there's a gully in the back yard. She asked me what a gully was. I explained.

She told me she was afraid of water now because that's where eels lived. I asked if she'd ever seen an eel. And that's when she told me her dream.

Today as I was shopping for the party, I thought about H's dream, where she rescued her mother, sacrificing her own life, to keep her from being harmed by all manner of scary creatures. I recalled that on the phone H had said that she would do exactly the same for her mother if her dream happened in real life.

As I was waiting for the bus home after shopping, this Joni Mitchell song popped into my head:

Rows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all


Mark Lawrence said...

My god, I can't even muster that kind of insight and write about it for my own children!

You rock as an aunt, Kirsty!

And thanks for the Joni Mitchell vid. It brought back memories of riding in the back of the car with my dad driving, that music on the radio, and wondering how one got ice cream in the sky. Oh, youth is wasted on the youth.

Kirsty said...

Thanks, Mark. I guess it's her awareness, revealed in her dream, of how much her mother has been hurt by her father, even as both of them have done their utmost to protect her that makes my heart ache.

Also, if you need some marshmallows for Jamie's pirate birthday, I have so many left over...

genevieve said...

BEST auntie EVAH. Lovely post, and you both sound beautiful :-)