Lali’s Dream

Last night my daughter had a dream which I would like to take a moment to analyze here on my blog. Partly because as a parent I want to understand my daughter, partly because I’m curious about the subconscious, and partly because it seems like something deep to talk about after dwelling on previously superficial concerns like fashion, blinged out skeletons and vain Qwirkle masters.

First I will tell you the dream and then I will offer my interpretation which you are welcome to counter with your own interpretation.


Lali’s  Dream

My daughter mysteriously ends up in my bed around 3:00 am, usually after some mid-sleep trauma like dropping her stuffed sheep on the floor. Heeeelp! Heeelp! she’ll scream and sob as if she’s being abducted. When in fact she has just dropped her sheep (this is always when I’m in the deepest stage of sleep and usually it is a serial event).


Last night it happened again, so hoping to avoid getting out of bed a second time,I told her to come sleep with me. An hour later this is what I hear through deep sobs:

“Noooooo Daaaadddddy! Nooooo! I can go potty on my own! I can do it by myself!!!!”

The next morning when I ask her what she had dreamt about Daddy, she says it was not about Daddy it was about Santa. Santa was being mean, telling her she was not big enough to do various things like “going potty,” “climbing up.” “climbing down” “doing anysing!” And because she was incapable, she wasn’t going to get any presents.

IMG_3394When I asked her what Santa looked like she cried, “He just came into the bathroom and I DIDN’T NEED HELP!!”

That didn’t really answer my question but here’s my interpretation: Santa represents Daddy who represents the Inextricable Other.The Inextricable Other is any external force over which we have no control but we feel is somehow impinging upon us.

It’s the Inextricable Other that causes the tension between differentiation and connection…from family, social mores, cultural, those things which we’re grafted to from the beginning without choice. In her dream, Lali was both conforming to the Inextricable Other (toilet training being a social more) and confronting it (Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do, Santa!).

Santa_Coming_Down_the_Chimney_DrawingFurthermore we have the mention of “climbing up, climbing down” which clearly symbolizes autonomy in vertical time and space. “I am vertically autonomous!” Lali is yelling into the face of a dismissive and callous Santa.

Santa doesn’t care, Lali won’t get any presents because she is not capable enough, paradoxically not autonomous enough (paradoxically, because others are defining, shaping and positively reinforcing her autonomy).

So she is being cut out by Santa, marginalized, which clearly represents being severed from the community, which is where sociobiology comes in…(which I believe I promised to talk about in my last blog): Social animals FREAK OUT when they’re ostracized from the group. So clearly Lali was saying, “No Santa! Nooooo!” I’m good enough, I belong to the herd of present-deserving children! I am conforming to autonomy!”


Ironically this same autonomy, if it includes following one’s progressive inner voice, will lead to increasing conflict with the Inextricable Other until one day Lali is forced to make a choice. And as a mother I hope that choice is “Go to hell, Santa!!!! I don’t need to deserve presents! Presents are a part of me.” (I hope she thinks of a better way to phrase it.)

At the end of the dream Lali said that Santa turned nice and gave her presents after all: “At the beginning place Santa was mean, but at the end place he was nice.”

So that makes me think what if Santa represents more than the Inextricable Other? What if tension with the Inextricable Other is made use of by something bigger, and that something bigger is the human spirit?????

IMG_3389What if it was all for a purpose? What if Santa was just trying to shore up her own self worth or provoke an understanding of human nature and compassion for the marginalized which would drown out a sense of Otherness altogether with a sense of Oneness?

I asked Lali if she understands more about human nature after her dream. She just ignored me and kept batting at a Christmas ornament.

So…I could be wrong. What do you think?


4 thoughts on “Lali’s Dream

  1. I love your philosophical/psychological exposition. Either it’s right on, or way off base. We’ll never know, and that’s the beauty of such mental meanderings. In a way your dream interpretation evokes the Schrödinger’s cat interpretation of quantum mechanics. Similar paradoxes. But that Santa disturbs me – no gloves on, and it looks like his hands are bleeding between the fingers.

  2. I can attest that Lali is extremely good at climbing up and climbing down, and completely understand why she would be so upset that Santa would call her skills into question.

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