A Back to School Nightmare

The “back to school” drill is not only hard on kids, but parents as well. What’s really bad are the dreams that parents seem to start having around this time of year.

I had one last night. Actually, I had several, since I kept waking up, falling back to sleep and then dreaming the same blasted dream again.

It was a variation on an old familiar theme. I was back in high school, only this time I was not a slim, salutatorian, but instead I was trapped in my present-day, balding, middle-age body (usually I at least get the benefit of a younger former self). I had been stripped of my diploma, bachelors and doctorate and sent back for remedial training in chemistry. As I looked at my chemistry assigment, my breathing grew more labored, my pulse thready and my eyes started crossing, producing double the trouble. I began to panic. I located my best friend in high school (the valedictorian) and asked for help. He looked at me kinda funny (like, what are you doing here you dirty old man?), turned and walked away.

I’m awake now (I think) and stumbling around for a cup of coffee. With several more years of school, including college, left for my three, I anticipate many more such sleepless nights.

For all you amateur Sigmund Freuds out there, this is your chance.

  1. Ed

    Reminds me of a song called “I had too much to dream last night” by X-country rocker Webb Wilder. I’ve had nights like that. Fortunately, I’m too tired right now to dream … just sleep.

  2. Donna

    I wonder if we ever grow out of school stress dreams. My worst one is realizing it is the last day of school and I have forgotten (or skipped) PE all year and now I am not going to graduate….

  3. Ed

    When I was in undergraduate engineering school, I remember working mathematical problems in my dreams before an exam on several occasions. Often, I woke up mentally and physically exhausted … dreaded going back to sleep.

  4. Mike the Eyeguy


    But did you get the right answers?


    They don’t even have PE in high school anymore, so I guess future generations will be spared that one.

  5. Scott

    I still have the college dreams. Usually getting to graduation and realizing I didn’t have enough credit hours. I still think that credit hours are arbitrary.
    I’m sure these kind of dreams will intensify for me soon. My oldest starts kindergarten in 2 weeks.

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    It’ll all come rushing back, only more surreal, grotesque and embarrassing than the first time around.

  7. Brady

    Since you want analysis, I think the dream means that you are really messed up…

    I still dream about a chemistry class that I can’t remember finishing from university days. Then there is the student mail box that I forgot to check.

    So I guess you’re not the only guy screwed up.

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    Dear Siggy,

    Thanks for the free psychoanalysis. I was counting on someone coming along and pointing out the obvious.

  9. Mark elrod

    I have the same dream every night for the first year I was teaching. Now, I only have it the night before we start a new semester.

    I asked my shrink friend about it and he said it meant that I hated my father and wanted to marry my mother.

    That’s all I’ve got for you.

  10. Mike the Eyeguy


    That’ll be more than enough, thank you!

  11. Nancy

    Okay, I’ll try.

    Your kids are going back to school, so you find yourself once again thinking about such things. You have a good relationship with your kids, but you — in the deep recesses of your mind — worry that school is just not like it was when you were there. You feel acutely aware of your age and the time that’s passed since you sat at a desk. Although you are comfortable with your occupation and life now, you worry that your children will have to face pressures you never did… and you hope that they’ll be able to get through it. (The Chem exam represents the obstacles they’ll face, but more so the obstacles you’ll face as a parent) The lack of degrees demonstrate that you feel you feel ill-prepared to deal with this drama… But the truth is you have a true, eternal Friend who will not turn away from helping you! One who loves your kids more than you do.


    Just an armchair diagnosis.

  12. Mike the Eyeguy

    Oh my. What was it you do for a living again Nancy?

    Your words strike me as truth and are soothing. Seriously.

    Thank you.

  13. Nancy


    The check is in the mail.

    The kids are are at skoo, so now I am writing out bills, cleaning the house, and drinking coffee. I can watch FoxNews without turning the volume down.

    Is this adulthood??


  14. Nancy

    Oh — here is something else. I think you might want to consider the role of “vision” in this dream. In your dream, you see double, your eyes cross, and your valedictorian buddy dismisses you after looking at you funny. Perhaps you derive too much of your stability in life from your absolute knowlege base surrounding your occupation? (thus, the smart valedictorian guy rebuffing you hurts.) Maybe you hold fast to what you know and who you are — as defined by your job or your intellect. In your life, you are fequently the smartest guy in the room, most knowlegable, most deeply thinking. Maybe you just feel a tremendous security from this — especially by knowing what to do if a patient has astigmatism, etc. Maybe you know deep down that this will not help you address some of the issues the kids will face — the kind that need spiritual answers and prayerful intercession. Maybe the dream is just a little friendly reminder from God, trying to point you a real source of stability that won’t betray you?

  15. Mike the Eyeguy

    Ok, ok, maybe Mary Matalin was right–you are some kind of “high priestess” (and a prophet to boot!).

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