The baby on the lawn

Dot writes: I have a rich and varied repertoire of anxiety dreams. There’s the one about missing the train, and the one in which I’m at my parents’ house for Christmas and on Christmas Eve I still haven’t bought any presents, and the one where there’s a fire in the corner of the room but I have to pack a suitcase of clothes before I can leave, and the one (which is quite recent in date but surprisingly recurrent) in which I’m out walking, or sometimes in a boat, and a vast rocket or aeroplane crashes right ahead of me and I know that I’m about to die. (It’s a non-stop party in my subconscious, I can tell you.) And then there’s the one in which I’ve accidentally abandoned the children. For example: Ken and I are both at a party, we’ve been there for a while, and I thought the kids were with my mum – well I’ve been assuming they’re with my mum – but she’s at the party too, so maybe they’re with my sister, but in fact I don’t know who’s looking after them or exactly where they are and it dawns on me that this is a dreadful, dreadful situation. When Frank was a baby I had this dream in another form in which I realised that we had left him behind on the lawn outside a stately home and it was now raining.

Yesterday at about 6pm I was looking into our rather denuded fridge as I prepared dinner, and I asked Julie whether there was enough food for her to cook dinner for the boys today or whether I should put in a grocery order.
“But I’m flying to London first thing tomorrow,” was her reply.
“But I have the examiners’ meeting for the MPhil tomorrow and I thought you were looking after the children,” was mine. And we were both horrified.

Somehow Julie had talked all week about her trip to London and I had talked all week about my examiners’ meeting without either of us realising that we had a problem. For my part I was convinced she was flying out on Saturday. For her part – well, maybe she thought the annual examining process would all be done and dusted in time for me to be home by pick-up time. (Which is 1pm, in Frank’s case.)

So I starting phoning people who might possibly take the boys. First I phoned Joan, but her young daughter was at that very minute being sick. Then I phoned Niall (who has done us many favours of this type and probably deserves some sort of pension from us by now), but the call was rejected. Then I phoned the mother of Hugh’s classmate Simon, but Simon was going to be out on a playdate on Friday afternoon and his parents at work. Then I phoned Frank’s playschool, and happily the call was answered even though it was after closing time, so I arranged for Frank to stay until 3pm and Hugh to come for two hours after school if I could find someone to bring him over from Raheny. Then I phoned the mother of another of Hugh’s classmates and asked if she might be able to transport Hugh. She couldn’t – her son was being picked up on foot by a childminder and walked home in a completely different direction – but the childminder could take Hugh too and then Hugh could play at their house. So we had an arrangement and all I had to do was explain to Hugh as carefully and firmly as possible that he should go home with Finn and with a lady with long black hair he possibly knew by sight but had never previously spoken to.

Julie said I should take the extra money I would be paying Frank’s playschool out of her money for December. I said no. I was able to have the pleasure of being magnanimous, now my stomach had returned to roughly the right place.

Thank goodness for Hugh’s party, because without it I wouldn’t have had most of the numbers that I called yesterday evening. Thank goodness also that I didn’t, as I at one point planned, work late on Thursday evening. If Julie and I hadn’t had that conversation at a moderately reasonable hour – even worse, if we had not spoken at all, and if she had left for the airport at 5am, and I had assumed that she was simply sleeping late (as she often does) when I didn’t see her in the morning…shudder.

I had a couple of anxiety dreams last night. I had the plane one: the tail of the plane crashed in front of me and I started to run in the other direction but realised the rest of the plane was directly above me, still very high up but falling rapidly. And I had a dream in which I’d gone for a walk with Hugh leaving Frank asleep in the house. I was trying to get back but we were very far away, and I was frightened to think of Frank waking and finding himself completely alone.

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8 thoughts on “The baby on the lawn

  1. Meri

    Poor sis! When you are dreaming try to remember I said I’d take them. It may be a bit far in real life, but that’s nothing in a dream world, and they are always welcome. xxx

  2. mairij

    I still dream that its the day I have to sit a French exam (or a Latin exam etc.) and I haven’t been to classes all year. Or the other day I dreamed that completion of my PhD depended on sitting an exam and I couldn’t find the exam timetable and the administration building was a maze of impenetrable dark corridors and arcane administrative dealings, none of which gave any indication of the exam timetable.

  3. Argh, scary! My anxiety dreams always involve running late for something and never quits getting there, or discovering that I have forgotten all about a small caged pet like a parrot or a hamster and it has almost starved to death.

    1. kenanddot

      The pet dream sounds similar to my abandoning-the-children dream, but reflects the importance of animals in your life. That’s one variety of anxiety dream that I don’t get – I’ve never had a pet of my own.

  4. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    My normal anxiety dream is about a calculus exam, but I do have one in which I cannot remember Padraig’s name and another in which I have to get a group of people out of Pompeii/ Herculanum early on the morning of august 24, 79 AD. We usually make it …

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