Dear Professor, 

Thank you for taking your time to consider interpreting my dream. I have four sons; three from a previous marriage and one from a new relationship. This dream involves my first three sons who are C 25, S 23, and T 16. 

My dream starts out on a local creek, though it was more like a river since it was much wider. Me and my three sons where in a canoe just relaxing and floating along. When I was looking around I saw a dead tree. It may have been a pine. This tree had no branches and was tall, around 40 feet. The tree fell into the water and it made a loud bang when it landed. My boys asked what it was and I told them a tree had fallen into the water. Then a small ripple of water began to slowly come in the tip of the canoe until the canoe filled and sunk. My son S and I swam to the right toward a rock and my other two sons were swimming upstream. My son S and I got to the rock and S shared with me that he lost his pants. I looked over at the tree and told my son to look at the tree; it was turning into a crocodile. Just the head of the tree took on a look of a crocodile. The whole tree stayed intact when it landed. During this whole dream it was peaceful including when we all were falling out of the canoe. But when I was in the water the current was a bit quick so I was feeling a slight panic and I think I may have grabbed onto my sons pants.

Thank you sincerely,



My Dear C.L.P.,

Water is the basic element of life, and represents both birth and the natural flow of time.  Rivers are metaphors for genealogical connections – consider the term “offspring”, an Old English word that means literally to “to spring off”, as a small tributary might from a mighty river.  Therefore, to picture yourself (and your sons) in a boat on a river (as one of our greatest modern philosophers once sang- sort of) is to find yourself in the midst of a subconscious metaphor for birth, life and the passage of time.

Trees in dreams represent structure.  A large tree of a type so typically sturdy as a pine likely represents a core structure in your daily life – a fundamental routine or person(s) you have come to rely upon, or perhaps even an entire network or system of values.  The falling of the tree represents a major metamorphosis of this structure, and it is likely that your subconscious is working through some sort of current or coming major life change, one that you feel has disrupted or will disrupt your family’s existing way of being (represented here as “just relaxing and floating along”).  The fact that the tree is dead when you first see it likely means that this change is not unexpected, but rather one that you’ve seen coming for some time.  The necessity of explaining the noise caused by the impact of the falling tree suggests that you have a strong sense of  responsibility toward your sons, and see your role in their lives as that of an active interpreter and guide (which is just how one might expect an involved parent to feel).

Now, we come to the crux of your dream – the literal “rocking of the boat” that is created by the impact of the falling tree.  Small ripples suggest that you feel the changes will happen gradually, but the sinking of the canoe suggests that you feel they will eventually overwhelm and displace you.  Your sons C and T are able to swim upstream without you, which may mean that you feel they are more confident and capable of handling changes than your son S, who remains with you.  The absence of your youngest son is also of note, particularly as he is the child of a different relationship.  His absence could indicate that you do not feel this change will impact him in the same way it will impact your older sons, or it could be a subconscious means of protecting him from something you feel he is not ready to experience.

Let us next consider the morphing of the fallen tree to crocodile.  Crocodilians in dreams can represent a number of things.  Most people tend to see crocodiles in a negative light – they are cold blooded, ancient, predatory, sneaky (consider the phrase “crocodile tears”) and threatening.  Therefore the tree-becoming-crocodile in your dream could easily be interpreted to mean that you view the coming major life change as a threat.  However, as your dream at its core is really about navigating your children through a major life change, it is also worth considering that some cultures, particularly those of ancient Egypt and Africa, revere crocodiles for their fertility and their fierce ability to defend their young.

So, what of your son’s missing pants?  Missing pants in a dream indicate a sense of embarrassment or exposure.  Usually, the pants missing are one’s own, but in your case, the disappearing trousers belong to your son.  Your greatest moment of concern in the dream seems to be that you may have, in a moment of panic, grabbed on to your son’s pants.  The Professor would hazard a guess that this likely indicates a concern on your part that you may have caused your son to feel some undue embarrassment or exposure.  Take this as a message from your subconscious to avoid acting in haste, and to treat your son S with a special sense of awareness throughout any changes that are to come.

In summary: Your subconscious is working through some MLC (that’s human textual lingo for major life changes, BTW).  You can take heart in the fact that the tone of your dream was generally peaceful and that your panic was but slight and brief, suggesting that you really do have things under control.  The Professor believes that if you apply the heightened sense of parental awareness which you so deftly display in your dream to your conscious handling of what is to come, both your and your sons will make it through just fine.

I remain your faithful servant and dream interpreter extraordinaire,