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Talking About Nightmares

The informant is my mother, Dayna Rayburn, born in 1960 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She grew up in Tulsa, before going to college at the University of Oklahoma and graduating with a degree in nursing. She has worked at St. Francis Hospital in the newborn nursery for thirty years.

In this piece, my mom discusses the practice of not talking about your dreams before breakfast, and gives some explanation as for why we do it.

Mom: Do you remember when I would say “don’t talk about dreams before breakfast”.

Me: Yes, but why don’t you say where you heard that.

Mom: I think it was my grandmother. She must have told my mom, and I remember one day when I was really little I ran into the kitchen where my mom was and told her I had a bad dream. Before she would let me talk about my dream, she made me sit down and eat something. I think it was a banana. It didn’t have to be a full course meal: just something little.

Me: Why couldn’t you talk about your dreams before breakfast?

Mom: I don’t know. My mom just always said it was bad luck. It might be an old Indian thing. She heard it from her grandma, like I said.

Me: So why do you follow it?

Mom: I guess I believe in it? I think it’s just a nice thing to do, whether or not it stops bad luck. I think it calms you down. When I went into the kitchen, I was probably running. I still do it to this day, and I know I’ve told you and Alyssa about it.

Me: Yeah, I’ve even told Allen [my roommate] and a few other people about it. They’ll send me a text saying “I just had the worst dream” and I’ll reply back “Have you had breakfast yet?”

Mom: [laughs] They probably think you’re crazy.

Me: I mean, yeah.

Mom: Just tell them that your mom does it.

Me: I’m sure that will help.

This is an interesting belief my mom has, because we both believe in it without really knowing why we do it. I think we do it because we think we’ll be so worked up after waking up from the nightmare that we’ll just worry and put more stress on ourselves. In order to combat that, my mom tells me to eat something. This gives me time to calm down and think rationally about whatever my nightmare was, and remind myself that it was only a dream. I think the reason why we’re told to eat something is because eating is usually one of the first things we do in the morning, and it takes a bit longer than brushing your teeth, which means we have a longer period of time to cool down.

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