June 4th, 2008

Toy Bins

I apparently have some issues with the toy bins. There they were, in my dreams again last night. I gave one, full of trains and train puzzles, those toddler wooden ones with the pieces with knobs on them, to T.R., who was small, to distract him so I could make order out of chaos.

The chaos included puzzle pieces with glitter, boxes, blocks, and my grandfather, who was sleeping in the block box. At the point I tried to fix the covers over him and align the blocks better, T.R. figured out my ruse and crawled into the block box as well. He kept pulling the covers up too high and getting them in Poppy’s face.

By the standards of my dreams, this one isn’t that weird. What is different about it is that my dream vocabulary has changed. I think my unconscious wants to preserve an air of mystery about what is bothering it, lest I get a grip on all its secrets and stop loving it. For a while I had theater dreams. I had them a lot as I was getting more depressed and shutting down more of my personality. Eventually, it dawned on me that my unconscious was making a pun: it wanted me to play. When that didn’t work, the crafty thing shifted to dreams about a playful friend of mine. That’s the kind of stuff it does.

Obviously, the surface level of the dream is all about control issues, specifically about T.R. and his room and untidiness and that makes perfect sense given my waking life right now. But I’ve noticed that items recur in my dreams until I figure them out and two toy bin dreams in a row make it something of a riddle for me.

So I think about them. I bought them when we were putting together the nursery for Syd. I wanted something bright-colored. The room was white; the furniture was white. I picked out crib bedding that had giant primary-colored polka dots on it. I embroidered an afghan for Syd with numbers in red, yellow, green, blue. We hung a poster from the library on the wall, Thatcher Hurd animals reading while falling through the air. And I needed something to put all the toys in, thus the bins, plastic, one red, one yellow, one blue, pinned together with white pegs on the sides, a flat green plastic top, casters on the bottom. Later, when Syd and T.R. were older, they got unpegged, used as containers on shelves. One of them is in T.’s room now, a red one, full of Legos.

They remind me of the hopeful times, the times when I sat on the floor and played blocks and listened to Peter, Paul, and Mommy. I used to read board books and color with crayons, amuse Syd for half an hour with sheets of stickers and colored paper.

Also tough times, when there were car problems we couldn’t afford to fix, when I made sure that the groceries for the week didn’t cost more than $50, when I didn’t have an adult conversation lasting more than 15 minutes. I cleaned a lot back then to give myself a sense of something accomplished and maybe to help myself justify not earning money. I used to talk about quality of life issues.

I think what is bothering me about the dreams is that they look back. I don’t like to look back. It’s dangerous. It’s scary. I don’t want to think about how things went wrong or even about the things that were right that are now gone. That silly unconscious is trying to dump over the carefully sorted bins in my mind.