My daughter wants a dog. Bad. Like real bad. Like keeping her up late at night bad.
I do not want a dog. We have 2 cats. And I have my 10 year old Taylor. I have never in my life had a desire to have things that count on me for food and water. I’m 3 above goal. No dog.
She’s argued her case of how she will take care of EVERYTHING.
She’s argued it 63 times. It’s a good case. But I’ve never been one to sway easily.
We’re not getting a dog.
She starts telling other folks about this dog. It’s mostly met with well-meaning adults trying to talk her out of it. I can see she is crushed by these comments. Things are mentioned like: responsibility, the expense, the work, how all kids say they will do everything, but never do.
She is especially offended by that last comment. She tells me, “I AM NOT LIKE OTHER KIDS. I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT TO ME. I AM ME.” She is right.
I don’t want a dog. I can’t handle another thing on my plate. I don’t want to handle another thing on my plate. I do not want to feed and water anything or anyone. I know that’s why people close to us are trying to talk her out of the dog. They know where I’m at. They know I want less on my plate, not more.
One day, I hear a lot of dream busting over her dog. Taylor looks like she is going to cry. She doesn’t cry often.
I feel mad.
I’m an advocate for people’s dreams, for God’s sake. That’s what I do for a living. Help people live their dreams. I start getting a fire in my belly. I can’t stand when I see dreams being dismissed and spirits dampened.
And I’m acutely aware of the fact it starts in childhood. We try so hard to make sure kids know how hard “real life” is that we bust bubbles wherever we go. It’s like we’ve done our job well if we’ve taught how the “real world” works. We constantly point out all the things that could go wrong instead of all the things that might go right.
We turn kids into adults with negative minds, low belief in self, and grown-ups afraid to try anything new. Grown-ups following safety, false security, and a mediocre life.
We start convincing and conditioning our young people that other people know more about what is right for them than they do. We do it because we are scared for them…for us. We also do it because…it’s easier for us…the parents, the schools. Let’s be honest….raising a follower, raising a conformist, raising someone who easily goes along with the masses is easy. Raising a dreamer, an independent thinker, a spirited soul, a world changer is HARD and INCONVENIENT.
When I was five, I remember being clear. I remember the oppression and repression setting in. I remember being told a lot of things I didn’t believe in. I remember my spirit getting less bright. I remember my dreams turning into “why bother”….
I don’t want a dog.
More than that…I don’t want a daughter who doesn’t know how to keep her dreams alive.
Inside battle. What do I do? I sure as heck don’t feel it’s my responsibility to ‘hand out” dreams. But I do feel it’s my responsibility to teach her how to make her own dreams come true.
I understand what I must do. Not as her Mom, but as ME, a fierce advocate for people’s dreams. I must tell and teach her what I know to be true. Despite what I want. Despite how inconvenient. It’s sacred to me that she knows how to dream bigger and HOW to be an active participant in creating her dreams.
So it went like this:
You know I don’t want a dog, right? A lot of people don’t think you should have a dog, right? This is what I want you to remember. YOU want a dog. Don’t give up on your dream. Think about that dog every day. Dream about that dog. Believe you will have that dog.
AND… do the work to get the dog. So what’s your plan? What will you put into action? What will YOU choose to think, believe and do despite the odds. Those are the things that will determine if you get a dog. I don’t know how it all works, but it does. It might not be next week, or next month, or next year. Maybe you’ll be 20 before you get a dog. But it’ll happen. Don’t get down. And don’t give up. If a dog is your dream, keep it alive and do what you can. Never let anyone else, including me squash your dreams.
Then I said: Here are my concerns. The expense, interruption in my work, more work for me, and our cats being neglected. I don’t know if those will ever go away. But I can tell you what I’d do if I were in your shoes. I’d do everything in your power to help me be less concerned. How could you do that?
She started earning money. She did odd jobs. Car washing, lemonade stand, plant watering, etc. Some days she made more money than me.
She made a long list of all she would do for the dog. And the cats.
She also made a contract saying that if I ever felt like the dog was “put on me” I’d have the right to take it back. There was a clause added that she’d at least get one warning so she could course correct. There were places for both our signatures and the date.
She worked hard. She wrote everything out. She said happily, “I’m OK if we don’t get a dog soon, when it’s right, I’ll get a dog. It’ll happen. Maybe not until next year.”
We volunteered at Angels of Assisi (I have community service work -but that’s another story). We saw all the dogs. We walked through the kennel. I touched one on the nose. I just wanted to get out of there. They were all barking. It was smelly. I don’t have that…”Oh you’re so cute, I want to take you home thing.” I never have that.
Tay said, “Mom let’s go back. I connected with a dog. I know he’s THE ONE.” We go back. It was the only one I had touched. Tay says, “That’s my dog. I can feel his energy. We are meant to be together.” I look at that dog. And then at all the other dogs. Then I look back at the one in front of me. Carter is his name. I never thought we’d have a dog named Carter. I never thought we’d have a dog.
Two days later we go back. Taylor hands her money over to the adoption assistant. They hand her over her dream.
Taylor says like 50 times, “I can’t believe I have a dog.”
I say, “Believe, baby girl. Always believe.” And…well done.