August 31, 2007

Dream a Little Dream …

My wife and I were lounging around last Saturday night watching our 6-week-old daughter snooze, when all of a sudden she hit me with one of those mind-bending questions that came dangerously close to making my brain explode:

"Do you think babies can dream?"

Now I'm smart, but not I- Know- Whether- A- Baby- Dreams- Or- Not smart. I'm smart in the sense that I can successfully answer questions like "How do you play Sudoku" and "Did Justin Timberlake, in fact, bring sexy back?" I gave her question some serious thought, though, weighing the pros and cons, debating the obvious issues at hand, and came up with a very profound:

"Why not?"

It's not implausible, is it? After all, babies are an awful lot like adults. They're grumpy when they're hungry. They're grumpy when they're sleepy. They're grumpy when MTV rates some Eminem video #1 on its Best Videos of All-Time List, even though anyone with half a brain knows it's impossible to top Michael Jackson's "Thriller." (Perv or not, he rocked the casbah with that one.) If babies have the mind capacity for all of this, I'd like to think that they can and do dream.

So we spent the next hour staring at Ella in her car seat, monitoring her every breath, trying to determine if she did, in fact, show any signs of dreaming. But, just like you'd expect from any baby, all she did was drool down the side of her onesie and drop a fart so loud that our neighbors stopped by to "make sure everything was OK." Truthfully, I wasn't.

So I began to search for an answer. According to medical research, babies do experience REM, which is often associated with dreaming. And some doctors—who shall remain nameless but are quoted in several arenas—say that this direct link proves that babies dream. Of course, that's a very big assumption and there's still no factual proof to back this up. Remember, just because you hear the sink running in the bathroom doesn't mean your guest washed his hands.

Now, just for a minute, let's pretend that there's conclusive evidence that babies dream. This begs an even more important question: If babies can dream, what do they dream about? Like any savvy, well-educated journalist, I turned to Google for answers. Some folks seem to think that babies dream about heaven. Others believe that they dream about the womb. And several more (read: a Yahoo user by the name of LuckyLou77 who, for all I know, could be a week shy of her 11th birthday) believe they dream about the one experience they've had so far—popping out of their mama.

While all these answers sound reasonable, none of them seem to click with me. I just can't believe that babies can handle such big and complex ideas. I think it's a safer bet that when Ella is tossing and turning in her crib, she's less likely remembering her birth and more likely fantasizing about a giant bottle filled with boob juice. Hell, if I was a baby, that's all I'd dream about.

So the moral of this story is that babies may or may not dream. No one really knows. And as Ella sat there in her car seat, content as can be, I realized that it really doesn't matter if our infant dreams. As long as she's sleeping soundly, I'm happy. Plus, when it comes down to it, all that really matters is that when she wakes up, mom's around to clean up the giant load in her pants.

The Life of Dad is updated most Fridays (barring the call of family duties). Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian


Wise One said...

I recommend renting Look Who's Talking.
This should answer any questions that you have about the thoughts and concerns of babies.

Kensington Young & Marrieds said...

Brian--Sean slept for 14 hours straight last week after we took him to the driving range in the evening (tying a previous record). My small mind would like to think that he was dreaming about his golfing future. Have you thought of taking Ella to a softball game?

ShannanB said...

That last line snuck up on me and I almost pee'd my pants....

You kill me.

I do think that babies dream, I can remember watching my boys sleep and seeing their facial expressions change (I don't think they were dreaming of pooping). I like to think they were dreaming about cuddling with their mom and dad.... 8-)

The Diaper Diva said...

Love, love, love your writing and look forward to each new post! As for baby dreams ... I say absolutely: Diapers, doody and lots & lots of food, sounds like a great dream to me. =)