Down Home: How Ezra got thrown into the slammer

José de Ribera's painting of Jacob's Dream (The Prado Museum via Wikipedia).

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Even when we can’t be together, my grandson shows up in my life. Sometimes, in unexpected places.

Like the other night, when I dreamed about Ezra. Actually, “dreamed” is too mild of a word. “Suffered a cursed nightmare” is more like it.

So, there I was, sleeping peacefully. And then I saw Ezra, who isn’t quite 2 1/2 years old yet.

In my dream, Ezra didn’t come running when he saw me. He couldn’t. I watched him through a tall fence. With razor wire on top. Ezra wore a little gray jumpsuit, and he played with a bunch of boys, who all were decidedly older than 2?.

Reform school

Gradually, through the fog of sleep and wispy dream, I realized Ezra had been placed in what we used to call reform school (never mind he won’t even start kindergarten for three years) and I think they now call juvenile detention center (never mind he won’t be a juvenile for about 10 years).

During daylight, a wakeful mind would see through this dream.

First off, a 2?-year-old can’t get sentenced to reform school. I mean, what’s the worst he can do? Shout, “No”? Stuff too much food in his mouth? Pee in the bathtub? Ezra can’t even comprehend a law, much less break one.

And second off, even if something else bad happened in his little life, he’d come to live with us, or his other grandmother, Linda, or somebody in our family. They wouldn’t just lock him up, put him in a little gray jumpsuit and throw away the key.

Dreams aren’t logical

But dreams aren’t logical, and this one was a humdinger. I don’t know if I cried in my sleep, but I dreamed I was crying for my precious, innocent grandson.

Besides worrying for his safety, my first thought was: “Our sweet, little Ezra! He’ll be a mean boy by the time he gets out of this slammer.” And then I wondered: “Have those big boys already taught him to say naughty words? It’ll break his mama’s heart if he learns to say other four-letter words before he says ‘Mama’ clearly.”

Fortunately, I woke up before I could tell if he wore a carton of cigarettes rolled up in his little gray sleeve.

Later that morning, I called his mom, Lindsay, to tell her about my dream and to check up on Ezzie. I heard him playing in their living room, and I felt much better.

The message

Call me an Old Testament guy, but I think dreams mean something. No, not necessarily prophecy and future-telling. But they do say something about us, and about what’s going on inside us.

When Lindsay and Molly were growing up, I didn’t dream about them much—until they started driving. Then, the dreams just rolled into my noggin. And now, I dream about Ezra, who lives four hours away.

My theory is I dream about my kids—and grandkid—when I can’t even pretend to protect them. When our girls were little, I imagined I could stand between them and just about any bad thing. (Ha. I know; what a crock. But I was a loving, caring dad.) Then, when they hit the streets, I knew I couldn’t do much but pray. And now, Ezra lives far away, and I pray for him almost every day.

Of course, parenting and grandparenting are all about letting go. With Lindsay and Molly, turning them loose was far harder than changing diapers, getting up in the middle of the night, working on school projects, setting limits, fighting colds and all the other bone-wearying stuff of parenthood. With Ezra, it’s much easier. Joanna and I trust his mom and dad because we know they were “raised right.” I don’t worry about Ezra much.

Except, apparently, when I sleep.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Care to comment? Send an email to our interim opinion editor, Blake Atwood. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.