I haven't been dreaming as much lately, or rather, I haven't remembered much about my dreams until this morning.
I was older than I am now and had a little girl with me. I realized she was my child. We were at some kind of floating mall. The mall was very long, but on a boat, so it swayed every now and then. We got onto the mall boat from a huge endless parking lot and started walking our way down.
The entire mall was one long endless white corridor with stores leading off one side of the corridor. We never went into any of the stores, they were all clothing stores. It was depressing despite the brightness of the white walls and the perkiness of the employees we saw. Everyone had fake smiles plastered to their faces.
My child, a young girl in an outfit I wore as a kid, looked up to me and asked why everyone was so depressed. I said I didn't know. We sat on a bench and she started sucking her thumb while she watched everyone.
This crazy woman in work out pants and a bright pink hoodie fast walked over to me and started yelling that my child was sucking her thumb and that it would end in her becoming a worthless adult, because thumb sucking is the worst thing a young child could do.
Aghast, I yelled at her, and we left to go walk outdoors. The mall was next to a large national park. I told my child that it was fine to suck her thumb, that it wouldn't end in her becoming a terrible person.
We started walking along a narrow forrest trail, it was very beautiful, reminded me of my childhood camping trips. Somehow the woman in the work out pants followed us. She started yelling at me for having a child that sucked her thumb. Screaming at me as we went over boulders as big as a schoolbus.
"Thumb suckers can't become doctors!" she yelled at me. "They can't become lawyers, they can't do anything because their thumbs become useless and filled with blisters!"
My child and I kept walking and climbing moss covered rocks, going up a switch back trail between giant trees.
"Your child needs to join my therapy program where I beat her thumb sucking habits out of her!" she yelled at our backs.
I had a dream inside my dream of my girl being at an old fashioned school for young ladies in the Victorian era. I know that school. I had dreamed of it before. She was wearing a frilly black dress and being told how to be a proper lady in order to marry a suitable man. Pink hoodie woman was there in a frilly pink dress. She was pricking my girl's thumb with tacks so when she sucked her thumb, it would hurt. The woman threatened to break my girl's thumbs unless she stopped.
Enraged, I flew back into my original dream and started yelling back at the woman. "You are not going to break my child's fingers or stick tacks in her thumbs to prevent her from doing something that means so little! Thumb sucking isn't a crime! It won't ruin a child for the rest of their life!"
The woman started showing me pictures to prove her point. They flew into my field of vision as photos do in video games, obscuring my vision of anything but the photos and a small description of them.
They were photos of hands that the woman said proved her point. They were all pictures of old man's hands. Arthritic hands with knobby knuckles and liver spots. "See? These prove my point, none of these hands could do open heart surgery! They were ruined by thumb sucking!" the woman yelled. She pointed to their thumbs, which had callous's along the knuckles.
"These hands couldn't do open heart surgery with or without the callous's!" I pointed out angrily, "They're all the hands of old men, who lived their life with firm and stable hands that slowly became like this due to old age! It had nothing to do with thumb sucking!"
She showed me a photograph of misaligned teeth, also of old men. "See? Sucking thumbs means your teeth go bad! They couldn't chew an apple because of their thumb sucking!"
"Those teeth are bad because of old age!" I retorted. "When I'm their age, I'm sure my teeth won't be beautiful either! Sucking on your thumb doesn't make your teeth go bad! Life does that!"
The woman paused and started rifling through her photos for proof that such a simple thing, thumb sucking, could end the life of a young girl. I watched her with some amount of pity. She was trying to blow the habit out of proportion so she could convince parents to send their children to her school for large amounts of money. She enjoyed disciplining kids to the point of cruelty. She had never expected me to confront her and point out her own stupidity and false claims.
My child and I ignored her and kept walking up the path. My dream settled. I think I dreamed of walking through those woods for a while without anyone around me. Somehow, in the manner of dreams, my child disappeared.