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Old Soul

You know that dream you have where you are outside on familiar streets or inside a familiar building, but somehow can’t find your way? The streets or halls all seem to go on forever and don’t lead where they are supposed to, presenting a surreal and very frustrating version of streets and buildings you navigate every day. It’s a classic anxiety dream, and Simon just had it. I’m calling this “Old Soul: Exhibit A.”

One night last week, Simon awoke crying in the wee hours of the night. Matt went to him, and between sobs and then again the next morning, Simon described his “scary dream” to us:

“I was trying to walk to my haircut [on Bardstown Rd.]. And I took Spring to Speed, but Speed wouldn’t go to Bardstown Road, and I couldn’t get there.”

I’m not at all surprised that Simon would have an anxiety dream, but I would have expected at this age for anxiety to manifest in his sleeping brain as monsters or mummies coming after him. This particular iteration just seems so grown-up for a still-small child.

I’m also amused that Simon has anxiety over getting lost of all things. He’s told me before that he’s scared about driving ten years hence because he’s afraid of not knowing where to go and of getting lost. The punchline here being that the kid has a terrific sense of direction and can easily tell you which highways lead to a given destination. Really, this should be my anxiety dream, not his.

On to “Old Soul: Exhibit B”: Simon may have just suffered his first existential crisis. While I attended a screening of “Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence” by the Presbyterian church of America last night as part of a community-wide panel discussion on gun violence, Matt took Simon for a stroll across the Big Four Bridge. At one point, Matt looked up to see Simon with his hands in his pockets looking very pensive.

As a fellow introvert who also enjoys getting lost in his thoughts, Matt let this go for a while. When they got to the bottom of the ramp, he asked Simon about what was going through his mind. The answer was this:

“Oh, I was picturing my body down there in the water.  Just floating down the river. And I was dead.”

Needless to say, that’s not what Matt was expecting to hear. On our first trip across the bridge, last Tuesday, Simon was initially frightened, then subsequently delighted, to walk across the Ohio River. But even when fear turned to happiness, he still paused at regular intervals to see how far the river was from us and speculate as to weather he could swim to the river bank if he fell in any given point.

Matt tells me that he took a two-pronged approach to responding to Simon. First, he assured him that he was not going to fall in and that even if he did, Matt would jump in right after him. Second, he assured him that everyone has those fleeting morbid thoughts and that as he gets older they will be easier to control.

I’m almost afraid to hear what’s going through his mind next. Then again, at least at six he’ll tell me!

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