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.