I remember the horror and embarrassment the night my third grade teacher called home to discuss my daydreaming propensity with my parents. In retrospect, I think Mrs. Vincent was too strict to have been a truly good teacher, but I think she was a good person and was genuinely concerned that I'd rather sit alone with my imagination than interact with classmates during free time. And that I never seemed to know the directions when it was time to start an assignment.
I never felt like I got my classmates. Or them me. I had friends with whom I dutifully interacted (and had fun sometimes), but the deepest, me-est part of me didn't seem to be the same as anyone else. So I kept my core hidden and visited as often as possible, sometimes on purpose but mostly slipping in unintentionally because my mind wasn't engaged elsewhere. I dreamed of my dolls secret lives and adventures when I was at school or asleep, of the conversations I would have with my favorite fictional characters when they popped off the page, of the feelings my furniture might have about me. Way would lead on to way until I could not begin to reconstruct the path my fantasies had taken.
|Daydream by Leonid Afremov|
Can you imagine the inward sigh of relief on hearing this report? I can still feel that moment of frozen panic when being called on and having no memory of what had been asked. Hearing (or imagining) the quiet snickers or impatient shifts of posture of classmates recognizing that I had been daydreaming once again (I'd gone to school with the same core of people for years; they knew my propensities). Frantically searching my brain for a snippet of what had just been said to gain a clue as to what my answer should be. I guess by high school I'd developed that skill well enough for Mrs. Vurlicer.
To this day, I prefer tasks that don't require my full attention. Crafting, cooking, gardening. I like to work with my hands to leave my mind free to roam. Thoughts on relationships, real and fictional; fantastic or unlikely situations; alternate lives and realities. And too often: perseverating on my worries.
Last school year, my daughter's teachers approached us with their concerns about her intense daydreaming. They reported that even when they called her name she did not respond. And there it was: a flash of recognition and strengthening of the understanding between us that sometimes seems too tenuous. I am 38 years old, and I often awaken to the realization that my children are calling for me or my husband is repeating my name with annoyance, and I have been been tripping through my imagination for untold minutes, blocking out real life. It's a coping mechanism, true, but it's also a joy.
I once even lost a friend over this trait. But in true stubborn (and appropriate) form, I figured if she was willing to abandon me over daydreaming, she wasn't worth holding on to.
But I wonder (as I daydream): Is this typical? Does everyone do this to an extent? Tell me.
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