Monthly Archives: September 2010

OK to Dream the Impossible Dream?

Do we let children keep hope of having the impossible happen, or “prepare” them by telling them that it won’t?  I asked myself this question the other day as my daughter anticipated the posting of the cast list for our local ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.  This was the first year she was eligible to audition, and she was beyond excited.

While driving to the audition, I told her to do her best and have fun.  I also reminded her that if it didn’t work out this year, that it would be great experience just to audition.  She said, “Don’t worry Mom, I will be fine.  It will work out.  I just know it.”

At the end of the audition time, I was met at the door by a steady stream of  young girls, all with smiles on their faces.  A good sign!  My daughter’s  first words to me were, “I auditioned for Clara!”  Clara?  Clara is a main role in the production.  I had never heard of an eight year old being cast as Clara.

At home, she asked if she could re-enact her audition for us.  We assembled into our family room and watched our daughter perform each part of her audition.  At last, she asked, “Do you want me to show you how I tried out for Clara?”  We said, “Sure!”

Although we thought she did a marvelous job,  I couldn’t imagine they would cast her as Clara, and wondered why they let all the younger girls try out for this role.  I asked my daughter if she thought that Clara should be played by someone older that danced en pointe, to which she replied, “They said that a child would be Clara this year, and you never know who might be the best for the part.  They said we could audition if we wanted to, so most of us did.  I might be Clara, Mom, you  never know!”

Was she right?  I knew that there was a less than slim chance that she would get the part of Clara, but would it be wrong of me to “prepare” her by telling her that an older girl would most likely get the part?  Should I allow her to dream of the possibilities, and not give her a dose of the real world?  This posed a real dilemma for me as a parent.  In the end, my husband and I decided to not “squash” her hope, and allowed her to keep dreaming of being cast in any role.

Right before finding out the cast list, my daughter said she didn’t care what part she got, she would be excited to have any part.  She also said that since she was starting so young, maybe one day she might be good enough to be chosen to play Clara.

I realized then that I didn’t need to “prepare” her after all.  She already knew all that she needed to know, and dreaming the seemingly impossible dream was really okay.

By the way, she was cast as one of the little soldiers.  She has been walking around as an excited little soldier ever since!

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Go Ahead, Play That Game

The older my children get, the more independent they are.  I remember the days when I couldn’t wait for them to be able to do certain things on their own.  Now I miss the days when little hands reached up and needed me to help them do the smallest of tasks.  How quickly a perspective can change.

I have loved each stage of their young lives, and know that I have many more to look forward to, as they are only 8 and 11.  Recently, however, I realized that I was falling into a trap that I always thought I wouldn’t.  I was missing opportunities to play with my children.

Playtime changes for children as they grow up, but I know it is still important.  I have always played games with my kids, but this summer it hit me that I wasn’t doing it as often as I would have thought or liked.  My son and daughter were always busy doing something on their own, whether it was reading, helping with household responsibilities, watching a movie, or playing independently.  All of this is good, but I started missing those times when we played “house” and built buildings, or just enjoyed a good game of Candyland.  It sounds like my children are all grown and I have missed this window.  I know that isn’t the case.  I think I just had a gentle inner nudge to keep playtime in our lives, even though my children are growing up and what play looks like to them may be changing. I think children may sometimes feel like they are too old to play, or it isn’t cool anymore.  Maybe a parent offering to play with them gives them “permission” to play.

I know that spending time playing with my children, whether it is playing a game of Scrabble, bringing out the Kapla blocks (which are cool for even 40+ year olds), doing Mad Libs, or playing charades, is a good thing.  I wouldn’t even rule out playing “babies” and “house”  with my youngest.   It opens the window for conversation and helps secure a bond that they will hopefully carry with them for life.  Sounds like a lot for just a little playtime, but I do feel like it is a valuable piece of the parenting puzzle that shouldn’t be overlooked as children grow up.  We are never to old to play, and there isn’t a price that can be put on that connection time in the big picture of family.

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Perfect Dog Eats Hole in Wall

We have the perfect dog for our family, a 15 month old English cream Golden Retriever named Lexi.  We have had her for a year now, and seen her grow into the sweetest dog ever.  She house-trained beautifully, learned simple commands easily, and couldn’t be more loving.  Lexi has always been perfect in every way until… she ate our wall.  Really, she ate a hole in a flat wall, drywall and all.

On the night of the incident, my husband and I were in the office and she was laying right outside of the door, happily chewing on her Nylabone, or so I thought.  I heard her cough and something told me things were not all right.  I walked out of my office to see her standing at the wall, with drywall on her nose.  Beside her was the hole, a gaping hole in our wall.  I was in shock.

After searching the internet for all kinds of reasons she could have done this, I decided it would be a good idea to rule out any medical issue.  The next day I took Lexi for a full exam and blood work-up.  The vet said she looked great, and agreed that it seemed totally out of character for her.  She said maybe the blood tests would show something helpful.  Later that evening, a Friday night no less, she called back and went through all her numbers.  “Essentially,” she said, “your dog is perfect medically.  I think this is a behavioral issue.  I can give her something like doggy Prozac that would definitely curtail that kind of behavior.  A lot of dogs take it, and it is perfectly safe.”  No way, I thought.  This is the first time our young dog had done anything like this!  To her credit, the vet also recommended a dog trainer that specialized in behavior issues, but suggested we wait until another incident happened.  She suggested that this may be the only time something like this happens.

We decided that we would handle this episode much like we would if it were one of our children.  Pay  close attention to her and figure out if there is anything else going on that we aren’t aware of and might need help with.  We won’t opt for medicating her unless it becomes an extreme situation and only if all other options fail.  I don’t think this will be the case.

This whole experience made me think about how often in our society young children are medicated.  I am no expert on this by any means, but I did hear the recent reports about the study documenting how in the past very young children were medicated and research showed that this wasn’t always in the best interest for their overall development.  I am sure there are times that it is medically necessary for a child to be medicated, but I wonder how many children could benefit from alternatives.  Maybe more opportunities to be outside and move their bodies, explore, and connect with the world around them might be helpful.

Like I said, I am no expert, but I know with our dog, she listens much better and is more attentive once I have taken her on her long walk in the morning.  Maybe there is a nugget to consider in that example.

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