Spunk and Muscles

 I just woke up from a panic dream.

Little T and I were walking along a beach on a lovely summer day.  People were all around us, playing in the water.  We came upon a stand of bleachers facing the water, maybe four or five rows high, and on the bleachers was a group of students from our old school, getting arranged for a class photo.  The teacher, a woman we know and like, stood about 5 or 10 feet in front of the bleachers, with a camera, waiting for the kids to settle into position.

She and I started talking, making conversation, catching up with one another.  We talked about how she just went shopping at Costco in preparation for her students' First Communion.  We reminisced about the First Communion celebrations my kids had when we were one of the school's families.

Suddenly, the tide came in, fast.  The water came up to my rib cage and knocked me off my feet for a moment.  And instead of flowing back out, the water stayed in, high up on the beach, now at about the middle of my thighs.  I looked up at the bleachers, amused by the reaction of the children who were now looking down at water swirling around beneath their bleacher rows.

And then, of course, the panic: Little T.  Where was she?  She was holding my hand a moment ago, and now my hand was empty and all I could see was murky ocean water.  The water was starting to pull back out, and I couldn't find her.  Feeling the strong pull on my own legs, I couldn't stop myself from imagining what that force could be doing to my daughter, pulling her under and straight out into the ocean, without me ever seeing her go.  In my mind's eye, I saw her arms and legs tumbling and rolling beyond where anyone could save her.  Water was rushing by me on all sides, as I frantically scanned the beach looking for her.  I started shaking, and the beach started closing in on me. The moments passed, and with each one, my fear and panic increased and my stomach heaved.

And then, as the water drained from underneath the bleachers, a laughing Little T emerged as well.  She had scurried under the benches while I was talking to the teacher, looked up at all those wonderful jungle gym-like metal rods and planks, and started climbing them.  When the water came in, she just climbed higher, until, with the water at its highest point, she ended up hanging on to the bottom of the highest bleacher row, flexing the 5 year old muscles she was showing off to me just last night before bed ("Mommy, I'm five now, so look how big my muscles are now?")  She was fine, happy even, pleased at the climbing adventure she had had and tickled by the game of keep away she had played with the tide.  Tickled, of course, because she had won.  She hadn't even gotten wet.

She saved herself.

And I woke up with that panicky feeling still holding on.  But I figure that dream is telling me that Little T is a survivor.  All she needs are the muscles and the spunk she already has, and she is going to ride high above life's fray and come out smiling.  Oh sure, I still parent her and do the time out thing and set boundaries and encourage creativity and read her books and make her eat vegetables. But I don't think I'll worry about her very much.  Instead, I'll just hope she's around if I ever need a MacGyver-type set of hands in an emergency.

And I will add two new things to the list of what to pray for:  spunk and muscles.  For all of us.

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