Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Years ago I was talking to some friends about the dreams our pets have. Sometimes the pet parents, especially the dog owners, thought they could guess what their pets were dreaming about based on their sounds and movements. Cat owners were generally perplexed. My cat Chaucer, for instance, would regularly twitch and flex his claws in his sleep. He could have been dreaming about hunting a small critter, chasing the red dot, or “making meatloaf” while getting a good ear scratch. It was frankly impossible to tell.
Fast forward ten years and, now, I wonder what my son is dreaming about. The other morning, as he and I lie in bed snoozing, he laughed out loud. Then he began jerking his shoulders in a motion that has become very familiar to us. We call it his happy dance.
Actually, since his happy dance usually involves food of some sort, we rename it based on what he’s eating. If he’s excited for pizza, it’s his pizza dance. If he’s finally gotten the cup of milk he wanted, and starts wiggling while he holds the straw between his lips and taking a long drink, it’s his milk dance. If he has an Oreo gripped in each hand, it’s his cookie dance. You get the idea.
When we see him doing this, we’ll start singing a portion of the chorus from the theme to the 1990s film Space Jam. “Here’s your chance, do your dance,” we’ll sing, and he’ll sometimes redouble his efforts, with a wide grin on his face.
Sometimes it isn’t related to food at all. Sometimes, just out of the sheer joy of life I suppose, he’ll begin grunting to a regular beat, jerking those tiny shoulders, rolling his little tummy, and bouncing up and down, with the most adorable grin on his face. Sometimes he’ll do this while bouncing on the spring loaded seat of his little push-along car riding toy. Sometimes he’ll just be standing in the middle of the living room. Sometimes he’ll be sitting next to you on the couch.
Sometimes, we can get him to break into dance just by singing the little chorus that he has come to associate with his joyous movements. It’s always fun, no matter what prompts it. We know that he won’t stay little forever – he’s already grown so much, so fast – and we’re bound and determined to enjoy as much of this toddler time with him as we can.
Some day soon enough he’ll be able to tell me what he was dreaming about when he wakes up. Then he won’t want to tell me anything at all, much less what he dreams about. He won’t want to sing with his daddy or do cute dances. He’ll roll his eyes at the very suggestion. He definitely won’t want me sharing the stories or the video I’ve shot of his happy dance with dates he brings home. Then, maybe, if I’m very lucky, he’ll come back around some day and ask to see those videos. He’ll ask to hear those stories. And while I look at the man he’s become, it will be a bittersweet memory I share of the adorable toddler he was.
I know it’s all coming, and I wish I could slow it down. But I know I can’t. All I can do is try to savor these days while we have them. And never, ever, take a moment of my time with him for granted.
Here’s our chance, do your dance, little man. Here’s our chance, do your dance, at the Space Jam.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org