There’s a large leather strap and feather dreamcatcher hanging from the ceiling fan in my young son’s bedroom. There’s another smaller version on a key chain that he uses when he goes away, like travel-size shampoos and his favorite stuffed animal, to give him the feeling of security and protection. My son understands the power of the dreamcatcher to stop bad dreams, imagined shadow monsters and things that go bump in the night. He recently asked me why they don’t work on stopping other things.
My son was playing in the indoor play area of McDonald’s on a rainy day recently when someone stole his cute little Reebok rain coat. It was placed under his sister’s coat and several coats of his friends, so I know this wasn’t a case of a distracted mom or babysitter simply picking up the wrong coat. Whoever took my son’s coat had to go digging.
How do you explain to a shell-shocked five year old, whose waterfall of tears are pooling puddles at your feet, why someone would take his coat? It’s sad that I should even have to try to explain this, in words he can understand, at such a tender age. For days, he pummeled me with questions: “Why would someone take my coat? It was mine, and why would they take it?”
He felt violated, and I felt angry, not only because of the theft, but because his trust in people, his trust in all that I had been trying to teach him since he was born, and maybe his trust in me had been broken.
Then today, on the car radio, came the story from Virginia of the largest mass shooting in America’s history. Thirty three people dead. Dozens of others wounded. I could almost hear the questions forming in his head, questions that I cannot even attempt to answer. I leaned over and shut the radio off.
Tonight, when I tucked him into bed, I straightened one of the feathers on his dreamcatcher then leaned over and kissed my young son good night, perhaps a little longer than usual. It’s a shame that the dreamcatcher can only protect against some of the things that go bump in the night.