Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thanks for the Well Intentioned Dream Squelching

Lately, I've been in the mood to dream, and my kids are dreaming right alongside me. I've always been a bit of a dreamer- sometimes it's unrealistic, and sometimes things don't work out, but in general I'm happier when I have active dreams than when I don't.

The latest dream or hare brained scheme, depending on how you look at it, involves attempting to visit all 50 states in the next 5 years. Phase 1 would probably be a car camping trip across the southwest states. My kids have been having a great time researching, plotting on maps, taking notes and looking at websites for all the amazing National Parks on the way. Girl Child has started a notebook to collect our research in, and Boy Child has started a change collecting jar to help with gas money. I've started talking to friends who live along the way that we'd like to visit. Of course, we'll have to come up with a lot more than loose change to pay for it, and there are plenty of logistics that I haven't yet worked out, but it's been exciting and fun to dream and scheme together. But, there are always people who will rain on a happy parade, even if they don't really mean to.

A very loving relative was just hanging out with my kids the other day, and when they mentioned the dream, I was surprised to hear the downer of a response. Instead of excitement, she told them that we shouldn't go, but to just wait, that they could go when they were older, even suggesting that they could always travel when they retired. Well, there are lots of reasons I can think of not to wait. Life is short, and time has a way of passing you by. My kids will grow and eventually leave the nest, so it looks to me like the time for family trips is now. I hope they do want to travel when they are older too, but there is a lot of world to see. I doubt they'll run out places to go. And seriously, they are 10 and 12 years old, and they should be thinking about deferring dreams until retirement? For goodness sakes, they are kids and they should be dreaming BIG!

I was not there during this exchange, but the kids said she suggested they tell me they didn't really want to go because I was only really wanting to do it for them, and if they told me they'd rather save up for something practical, we could do that instead. Her practical suggestions were indeed practical, and yes they were things that would make life nicer, but when I am old and on my death bed, I don't think I'd be fondly remembering the new water tank I once bought. I do think I'd remember a cross country adventure with my kids. Plus, trying to talk kids in to trying to talk me out of something sounds a little manipulative.

The last card pulled was the safety card. "You could get mugged." Well, that's true, but I could get mugged every time I go downtown or to the grocery store or park. I go to big cities in my state, why am I in more danger in another state? Are National Parks and Landmarks really so dangerous? The biggest safety concern I have is the car breaking down, which would of course be a huge bummer, but I have AAA and I'd just have to deal with it- just like I would have to if it happened in my own state. Besides, if we listened to the "wait till you're all retired" argument this same person gave, we'd all be too old and frail to run away or fight off all the scary bad guys.

Now, I know this person, and I know she loves my family. I am sure she meant well, but still... Thanks for the well intentioned dream squelching. Thankfully, my kids were not so easily swayed, and didn't just let go of their dreams. When I asked them what they thought about it, they said "No way, we want to go!" Plus, they know me well enough to know that I want to go to too. Like I said, we don't have all the logistics worked out, but we are having fun dreaming together, and I get a tad bummed at the squelching of dreams, mine or my kids.

Yes, having dreams means taking risks, and there could be disappointment if things don't work out. But, what is the alternative? A life with no dreams? Is that really what I should be encouraging in my kids? Just chugging along enduring a boring life with no dreams, well, I think that sounds like it could be pretty miserable. I think I'd rather take the chances on dreams.