Oh being the dream crushing parent. Quitter explores…
Although Bossy and I are in different stages of parenting, sometimes our experiences parallel one another. For example, while she has been contemplating letting the cat out of the bag about the Tooth Fairy and all the other bullshit lies we tell our kids, I am in the midst of destroying yet another one of my teenage girls’ dreams.
That’s right, I am the “Killer of Dreams,” or at least that’s what was yelled at me when I suggested that it was time to give up on the fantasy of becoming a pop star and focus on a more attainable life goal. (Full disclosure, said daughter of mine cannot carry a tune to save her life and seems to be more interested in pop star posturing then actual music.)
Which brings me to a rather touchy parenting subject. At what point do we kill our children’s dreams? You know what I’m talking about, the ones where your kid who sucks at math and science tells you that they want to become an astronaut or when they are convinced that they are destined to become a famous artist when in reality something the dog barfed up shows more artistic promise then what they create.
Sure it’s all well and good to tell our kids that they can do and be anything when they are young, but at what age do we take stock of what they actually have an aptitude for and help them course correct? (Just to be clear here, I’m not saying anyone should tell their kids to stop creating or dream of interplanetary travel, but maybe help them look into something else to pay the rent.)
The magic number for my girls was twelve. After what felt like an eternity of going to bad dance recitals and choir performances, I kind of lost it and started to not so gently plant some seeds within my kids’ subconscious that not everyone was meant to be a superstar. Two of them seemed to get the message pretty quickly and let their childhood dreams die the inevitable death that most do, but not Ms. N. Oh no. She called me out on killing her dreams immediately and went so far as to quote pop star, mega-queen Arianna Grande, to me. Apparently you just need to believe in yourself to become a success. Talent is no longer a requirement, because as long as you have an unwavering sense that you are amazing, than you are. (F’ing pop stars.)
So despite me trying to kill my tone-deaf, song-birds’ desire to belt out horrible tunes for everyone to hear, her dream lived on. (Some might say even stronger and louder then before.) And now, almost four years later, I’m sad to say the fantasy lives on to the exclusion of her actual talents.
The kicker in all of this with Ms. N is that she is an incredible athlete, (as in often wins competitions and was approached by other teams and coaches to join them,) but has no interest in pursuing it. It baffles the mind. For someone so keen for the spotlight why would she not want to participate in an activity where she naturally shines? But she doesn’t.
I will state for the record that early on as parents my partner and I decided we would never be the kind of people who forced our children to compete if they didn’t want to. And we felt pretty darn smug in this oh so enlightened parenting decision, but that was before we saw just how talented N was at track. And now we worry that by not pushing her we are actually doing her a disservice. That is until I get honest with myself and admit that this may be more our dream for her then her own. (F’ing dreams.)
Which leaves us in a weird place. She’s pissed with us for not believing in her misguided dream of becoming a pop star and we’re disappointed in her for not using her athletic talent to do well for herself. Is anyone actually winning here? (Damn you dreams!)
So do I have any wisdom to pass on to Bossy before she gets to the “Killer of Dreams,” stage of parenting? Absolutely none. I have no f’ing idea what the right thing to do is any more. (But I will support any decision that involves putting that f’ing Tooth Fairy in her place. Glory hog making parents do her dirty work.)
Maybe Bossy and I should both just call Arianna Grande and ask her for her advice.