Nightmare

At about 5.00 this morning, Leo woke us up by screaming. We were both awake instantly – we’d never heard a cry like it. He was shrieking with all the air in his lungs, and was tense as a board.
We picked him up, which i think now may have been a mistake since he then became inconsolable until he fed for a while. I don’t think he’d woken up when we tried to cuddle him, so whatever scary thing was in his mind was compounded by odd things being done to him – he never gets picked up while asleep normally.
I’m fairly sure he had a nightmare. His screams weren’t like when he’s in pain, or hungry. He’d gone under the water in the bath last night, and got water in his eyes. Maybe he was still frightened.
Many people have said they can’t imagine what he could be dreaming of – what do babies know? what have they experienced? But that’s backwards. We only dream in ‘events’ because we are used to experiencing the world as a series of occurences with things generally familiar – so that’s the dream language. We wake up thinking ‘why was i so scared of losing my shoe?’ whereas we should ask ‘of what am i scared, and what link does that have with my shoes?’
Leo has all the feelings needed for dreams – fear, happiness, confusion – and all the difficulties of being human – who am i? what is this place? can i have food now? – so why shouldn’t he? The question should be to ask how children perceive their dreams – not whether they have them.

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