I was around six years old.

I was hanging out at the ball park with my group of little friends – aka all of the little sisters who were bored to death while their older brothers played YET ANOTHER baseball game.

We were standing around behind the concession stand and admiring the clouds.

One of the other girls said, “I CAN’T WAIT to touch the clouds one day!! I want to see what they feel like. I’ve always thought it would be like touching the softest cotton ball ever. It’s my biggest dream in life!”

Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “You can’t really touch clouds – they’re like steam. Your hand would just go right through them.”

She looked at me, horrified and crushed.

And then I realized: I just killed her dream.



As in, she had nothing left to live for. Six years old and her life was over.

One of the other girls looked at me with a glare. “How could you tell her that?? She’s ALWAYS talking about how she wants to touch the clouds!!”

I slunk away, back to the safety of my spot on the bleachers next to my parents. I’m pretty sure that little girl still hates me, as she wanders aimlessly and dreamlessly through her shattered life.

The other day in the car, Ali was musing from the backseat…

“Those clouds look so soft and fluffy!! I wonder what they feel like…”

I was immediately transported back to that ball field. Guilt washed over me. Dream Slayer.

Ack!! Should I tell her?

I mean, it doesn’t sound like it’s her lifelong dream to touch them yet, so maybe I should go ahead and give her a dose of reality NOW, rather than letting her be crushed later.

Yeah. That sounds about right.

“They’re like fog, honey. Your hand would go right through them!”


whew. Right call.

We got to where we were going – Birmingham Children’s Theater to see their rendition of “Cinderella”.

Ali loved the entire play, never even noticing that Cinderella’s Stepmother was abnormally tall, had a strange voice, and oh – stubble on his cheeks.

We were walking out of the theater and she was talking all about the play – how funny all of the characters were, and asking in particularly about the Stepmother’s long nose (which was, by the way, also fake.)

Should I tell her?? How many questions will it raise??


“So honey – did you notice that Cinderella’s Stepmother was actually a man?”


“WHAT?!?!? What do you mean??”

“She was a man pretending to be a woman.”

“How could a man PRETEND to be a woman?”

“Well, by putting on a dress and makeup and talking in a high voice…”

“NO. A man CANNOT pretend to be a woman!!”

“Well, it was a man alright.”

“No, no, no!! It couldn’t have been a man!!”

…and then she refused to say another word about the play. I may have horrified and confused her, but at least I didn’t slay her dreams.

25 thoughts on “Smashing Misconceptions Right and Left.

  1. I just told Hazel that she can’t marry her dad. I tried to let her down gently and thought I was doing a good job. Then she started crying because she doesn’t know who she will marry and how will she ever know?!? Have I mentioned how much I’m looking forward to puberty? :)

    1. Poor thing!! Ali wants to marry Chris sometimes, too. Or me. Or AJ. There’s a lot of “can’ts” when it comes to marriage and four years old…

  2. Awww, poor Ali, now very confused but I am willing to bet she will ponder on this and bring it up again one day soon. You know how she Never forgets one thing.

  3. You sound so much like me. We have had the cloud discussion several times. As well as the pot at the end of the rainbow discussion, the nine lives of a cat discussion, and now I am fretting at the thought of the tooth fairy which will surely raise questions in the next year or so! :}

    1. Ali didn’t buy that there was a tooth fairy for a bloomin’ second. She knows fairies aren’t real and was quick to tell me so. Not sure what we’ll do about that one…

  4. Hahaha! Man, that’s got to be tough -I had a panicky moment driving home from work the other day about how I’m going to handle all the questions I’m going to be getting in a few years. Please never stop blogging or I may not know how to answer them! On clouds: I had the same thoughts as a child about when I get to Heaven being able to hop back and forth on the clouds and fall into them like a big pile of blankets – I also remember being SO disappointed when my mom gave me a reality check. My dad works at a paper plant that has a huge smoke-stack, and because of how the smoke looked coming out of it I used to tell my friends that he made clouds at his work :) It didn’t help any when we would drive by and a cloud would be hanging around right above it either… oh how fun are the imaginations of little ones!!

  5. As a child, my husband’s aunt was told that if the flame went out on the flare stack at the refinery in their town, each house would blow up one by one. One day when she was nearly 40 and had her kids in the car, she panicked and called her dad telling him that everyone needed to evacuate since she saw the flame went out. THANK YOU for stopping these misconceptions early in life! We still get a kick out of it and tease her every time we go past the refinery which went out of business a few years ago!

      1. I’m also on the side of stopping misconceptions early. And not teasing about stuff without clarifying that it is in fact a tease.

        When I was a child, my dad used to tell us about “the electricity in our bodies”. I also learned about this in science class (http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/cells-tissues/human-body-make-electricity.htm) However, Dad would then demonstrate this by plugging his electric razor into one of our ears. I did not realize that the razor was battery powered. Fast forward to one of THE most embarrassing moments of my life, when my then boyfriend (now husband) was shaving and his battery died. The electric plug was not conveniently located. “Why don’t you just plug it into your ear”, I innocently inquired.

        ARG!!! Of course I’m still teased about it, but honestly I just never thought about it that much, and the demo was really quite effective!

  6. Not to be a devil’s advocate- but I think there’s something to be said for children indulge in fantasy- I actually went to a workshop about the importance of imagination and fantasy literature in a child’s development. I’ve wrestled with Santa Claus, fairies, etc., but I’ve decided to take a cue from Dr. James Dobson on this one. In his book “Bringing Up Girls,” the question was raised if little girls should be left to fantasize about princesses and castles, etc. etc. His response was somewhat to the effect of “children are going to grow up one day and learn reality vs. fantasy. Let them have their dreams before they become jaded.” Mindy’s story, which was hilarious, is an example of how that can be done poorly- more as a trick. Maybe I’m weird, but I think it’s ok for children to think they can touch clouds, or go on adventures looking for pots of gold. To me, that’s part of the wonder of childhood.

    1. I both agree and disagree with you. Ali absolutely LOVES to pretend and fantasize, but she also is very sensitive to knowing what is and isn’t real. She doesn’t like it when I interject things that could be real into her pretend – she feels the need to clarify with me.

      For instance, we were driving home yesterday, and she told me that her party friends (i.e. pretend friends) had lost their house in a tornado, so they would be living with us, since we didn’t know how to build houses. I replied, “Pop knows how to build houses. Would you like to call him and see if he can build a house for your party friends?” She got really defensive and said, “No – Pop can’t REALLY build a house for my party friends, right? Because they’re just pretend!!”

      I say all that to say: Ali is constantly lost in her fantasy world, but she knows it’s all fantasy. And she will hold me to the fire on anything I tell her, so if I tell her something is real and she finds out it’s not a few months later, she will remember and she will interrogate me about my misinformation until I’m sweating and convulsing.

      …which brings us to Santa Claus. Yes, we do Santa, and I always wanted to do Santa for my kids, but it’s a lot harder than I ever imagined. (I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago). It really does feel, in a strange way, like I’m lying to her, and I’m really afraid she’s going to be pretty perturbed when she realizes it. Because she’s so caught up in understanding the world, I think she may figure it out this year. At which she may quit speaking to me for a few days.

      My disclaimer, however, is that my opinions about this matter are based entirely on my experience with my one very analytical child, so I don’t believe that it applies to every child. I am totally not against fantasy and believing things that are pretend – I just know Ali prefers to keep her real and pretend worlds unmixed.

  7. Haha, well I’m glad you were able to intervene before Ali spent her life dreaming about touching clouds. It is so funny this misconceptions they have. The Cinderella thing is hilarious. They couldn’t find a woman to play the part??

  8. hahaha….I had some misconceptions that I recently found out about thanks to my American History textbook.
    As a little child, I had always, and I mean ALWAYS, equated Reindeer with Santa. And since Santa wasn’t real, I naturally assumed, (and because it was only talked about around Christmas and no one told me otherwise), that reindeer were mythical creatures. So, last year around April I discovered, while reading my textbook, that reindeer were, indeed, real. I was SO surprised/overwhelmed/embarrassed all at the same time. I mean, it took me 16 YEARS to figure out that reindeer were REAL?!?!? (or that no one could tell me?!?!)
    Moral of the story, make sure when teaching about Santa that you tell the kids that Reindeer ARE real and not some mythical creatures. :)

      1. Dreamslayer! I’d been dreaming about riding on a flying reindeer from the moment that I read Giann’s comment!

        The Santa thing is surprisingly a tough thing for me too especially since my guy is not especially into pretend play (except with Elmo). So far, I’ve managed to keep it light. We mention Santa. EVERYBODY mentions Santa to little kids but my kiddo doesn’t really like watching cartoons and stuff and it feels so wrong to really take time to really talk to him about Santa and “implant” the idea.
        *The above beliefs apply to me and my kid and somewhat to my husband and we’re weird. I don’t expect anyone else to agree.*

  9. When I was quite young, my mother told me she saw a Carebear playing on top of the clouds while we were flying. The next I-don’t-even-know-how-many-and-might-still-occasionally-look years of my life included every plane right with my nose smashed to the window feverishly looking for the mythical Carebear and Care-o-lot. Looking back, I’m not sure which is worse, crushing the impossible dream or creating one.

  10. Ha! I hope the day never comes that she sees a manly woman in public and makes a loud comment (as my child seems to sometimes do) about the person being a man or a women. Now, that would be embarrassing.

  11. Can I just ask how in the world at 6 years old you knew that about clouds?!? Oh wait, I just remembered that your mom taught the cubbies about the water cycle a few weeks ago, so I guess I do know how you knew that info. at such a young age :)
    I say there’s no sense in letting kids keep believing things that aren’t true, it will just be that much harder when they are older & learn the truth

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