The Dream Crusher

The gravity of my words and their effect on her hopeful little heart hit me like a ton of bricks.  I’d been in a hurry, annoyed at her stalling tactics, and distracted by the many tasks of the day.

But still.  I should not have gone for the below-the-belt strike.  But I did it without thinking, an off-shoot of living in the Land of Boring-Realistic-Adult-Responsibilites.  I often forget that she inhabits the World of a Dreamy Eight-Year-Old.

Today’s battle ensued over having to forego gymnastics for a few months, in favor of her other after-school activities, one of them being dance classes.  Now, without boring you to complete tears with the minutiae of our typical middle-class, first world problems, I can assure you that I have done my best to keep her in the activities she likes, when possible.
But when the schedule gets too crazy, something has to give.  In this case, it’s gymnastics, because we’ve already paid for dance.  I’m just practical like that.

The argument barreled along like a snow ball picking up stray sticks on its way down the mountain.  Each jab we took at each other became pricklier than the last.

“It’s not going to kill you to take a couple months off from gymnastics!”  said I.

“Yes, it will!  When I come back, everyone will be better than I am!”  complained she.

“Not true, new people join the class all the time.  And you’re only eight and just doing this for fun, anyways,” said I.

“Waahh!  It's not fair!  I'm going to miss it too much!  My friends are going to move on, and I won’t!”  sobbed she.

And then here’s where it happened.

The Giant Dream Crush of 2013.

“Daughter, it’s not like you’re going to be a professional gymnast when you grow up, this is not going to matter in the long road, honey.”

Shocked silence.  Then, explosions of wailing and sobbing, followed by sniffling and more stony silence.

“Daughter?  Are you OK?  I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be harsh, but the reality of the situation is that if you were going to be in the Olympics or something, you’d already be at a much higher level than you are now, sweetie.  But none of that matters, because you have fun, you love doing it, and it’s great exercise!”

“Daughter?  Daughter?  Are you there?”

“YOU-U-U-U CRU-U-USHED MY DRE-E-E-EAM!!!!!” she screamed at the back of my head as I attempted to back out of the driveway without hitting anything.  Because we were late to dance, you know.

Shit, shit, double shit.

She was silent the rest of the drive, and she slammed the door with never-before-seen gusto as I let her out at the dance studio.

I spent the hour and a half dance class thinking about what I’d said, and how cruel it must have sounded.  How hard it must have been to hear.  Not that it wasn’t true, but really, who am I to say what she will or will not, can or cannot accomplish?

She came out of dance class slightly less scowl-y, and I spent half the ride home gathering up my nerve to try and make this right.

“Daughter, I want you to know that I made a mistake earlier when I said you weren’t going to be a gymnast.  Adults make mistakes, too, and I’m coming from the perspective of Practical-Pay-the-Bills Adult World.  Don’t listen to me.  Prove me wrong.  If you have a passion in your heart for gymnastics, then you follow it and don’t look back.  You can be anything you want to be, baby.”

I caught her expression in the rear-view mirror, and her eyebrows were knit together in thought.

“It’s OK, Mom, don’t worry.  I have lots of dreams.  If gymnastics doesn’t work out, then I’m just going to be a singer like Katy Perry.”

“Oh, Lord,” I thought as I bit my lip.

But I simply smiled and nodded my head in agreement, adding that a college degree never hurt anyone, either.

For today, the world is her oyster.

My little Firework.

And it’s my job to let her colors burst, right?


  1. I have so been there. It's devastating when we snap before we stop ourselves!

    1. So true, but the silver lining is that I think we can teach our kids a great life lesson by showing them how to apologize and make something right when they mess up.

  2. You may have wiped out, but you recovered and handled it with grace. xoxo

  3. I giggled a little bit at the "I’m just going to be a singer like Katy Perry" line. Your daughter is awesome.

    1. She is quite a character...ha, ha! :) Thanks for reading, especially when I didn't make it to YW.

  4. Being a mom is so hard! I feel like I say stupid stuff all the time. Sounds like you made a great save.

  5. I was writing about something very similar. For my son, it was his running, him saying that he thinks on his next time trial, he'll shave off another two minutes. And I said well, maybe not, you've improved but maybe you won't be that much faster every time. I just meant it in the realistic way of he's 8 and got down to a 26 min 5K- which I think is awesome, but it might get harder to get even faster. I'm a dream crusher, too.


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