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Despite what throw pillows say, maybe your kids shouldn’t “dream big”

Before my kids were born, I swore I’d be one of those parents who encouraged their creativity. Who helped them pursue every interest, no matter how intricate or fantastical. Who refused to pigeonhole them within the confines of an ordinary, conformist life.

Then I had a daughter with ideas that no parent could foster. Her ideas are so grandiose and ridiculous that sometimes I think she’s joking. But she’s not. 

At age three, she announced that she wanted to be the first person to go to Pluto. Out of the entire solar system, she had to choose a non-planet that takes 20 years to get to.

“That sounds wonderful, honey!” I told her, determined not to shatter her dreams.

“That’s impossible,” my husband whispered. “It’s almost negative 400 degrees on Pluto.”

I shushed him. “She’s only three. Just encourage her!”

My open, nurturing attitude ended up biting me in the butt. As my daughter got older, her plans became earthbound; and she felt confident enough to take on anything. 

One winter morning, she announced that she wanted to swim.

“It’s too cold,” I answered.

“That’s fine,” she said. “We’ll go in the hot tub.”

“No pools and no hot tubs are open right now.”

“Then let’s make one,” she said.

“Fine. I’ll run the bath,” I said.

“No, I mean, let’s make a hot tub. We’ll build one!” She squealed. “It’ll be great!”

“Build one where?” I asked.

“In the living room!”

“We can’t build a pool in the living room,” I said.

“We can buy bricks and drag the hose in. We’ll start after lunch.”

“No.”

She started to huff. “Well, when can we start?”

“Never. We’re never putting a hot tub in the middle of our living room.”

“Why not?!”

I didn’t feel like explaining that (a) we don’t have a license to operate excavation machinery; and (b) we don’t live in a 70s porno movie. I told her to go read.

“YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING!” she wailed and flounced out of the room.

The next morning, she said, “Mommy, I want to make a wig.”

Finally! Something I could say yes to. “Sure!” I told her. “We can sew some yarn together.”

“No. A real wig. With real people hair.”

“I can’t make a wig.”

She scowled. “Why not?!”

“I don’t know how to make wigs! And why would you think I keep a stash of human hair?”

“YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING!” she hollered and ran out of the room.

That evening she wanted to build an igloo. Life-size.

“We don’t even have snow!” I said.

“That’s okay, they’re made of ice.”

“We don’t have ice.”

“Yes, we do!” she insisted. She swung open the freezer door and pointed to our lone, cracked ice cube tray which held two ice cubes and an experiment involving pom-pons and a broken toothpick.

“That’s enough ice to make an igloo for fleas,” I said.

She glowered at me.

I’d created an over-the-top dreamer just like I’d wanted. But I’d become a naysayer in the process. I should have been more realistic with her from the get-go. On the other hand, I have saved myself from sewing yarn wigs, building miniature igloos, and a lot of other lame crafting projects.

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About Erica June Ford, Bundoo Blogger

Erica Ford is a writer, editor, and host of the Boston radio show South Shore Live.  Her humorous essays about parenthood have been featured in The Huffington Post, the New York Times, and her popular blog Mommy Klatch. She is the author of Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox.

Erica completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, received her law degree from Boston College, and practiced law in Boston for several years. Aside from her three daughters, the highlight of Erica’s life was when Oprah Winfrey asked her to read her writing onstage at the Life You Want conference in 2014.

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