A few weeks ago, we sat around the dinner table taking turns filling in this blank:
“When I was a kid, I used to think _____________.”
Our kids are 15, 13, 11 & 9. Still kids, right? Their answers varied from thinking aliens lived in the attic eating popcorn to chocolate milk came from brown cows.
My left-brained, logical husband could only remember thinking he was a cheetah because he could run so fast.
Then it was my turn.
“When I was a kid, I used to think that when I planted pom poms, a flower would grow.”
I looked around the table and I saw 5 blank stares, like the smiley face emoji with big eyes, high eyebrows & straight lip.
Seriously, that’s not as weird as aliens living in your attic eating popcorn, is it?
Obviously, I had some explaining to do!
When I was a kid, my older brother and I would spend a lot of time with our grandparents. Erma, or as we all affectionately called her, Grandmother Pete, was short in frame, all 5 foot 2 inches, but was tall in nerves and stubborness. Her hands were rough from years of hard work. She could survive in the wilderness if put to the test. She was an amazing cook & seamtress. Clever & sneaky.
Despite all of the outward appearances, she had a gift for making her home cozy & welcoming with a side of quirky.
One summer when I was probably 5 years old, I remember being enamored by her pillows and comforters. She had chenille bedspreads & pillows edged in pom poms that she had most likely sewn on herself. I loved those pillows & covering up in that bedspread brought so much joy to my little girl heart.
For whatever reason that can only be attributed to having a childlike imagination, I got this crazy idea that if I planted one of those pom poms, a flower would grow.
Surely, Grandmother Pete wouldn’t notice a few missing pom poms?
So, I quietly cut off two pom poms and quickly hid them in my pocket until I could find the right moment and the perfect spot to plant them.
Later that day, I found a small patch of dirt and dug a hole big enough to hold my two small pom poms.
I was so sure that they would grow.
Dreams are a lot like that at first: a passing thought churned in a childlike imagination shared at the dinner table.
It’s our job as parents to give our kids the freedom to share those thoughts, no matter how crazy they may sound.
To plant the pom pom if they think it will grow.
To sign up to join the track team.
To buy a scroll saw to carve wood creations.
To talk to the jewelry store owner about designing a pendant based on something they drew with pencil and paper.
To buy the softball equipment.
To enroll in a cooking class.
Either way, you have to give your kids the freedom to dream & think the crazy thoughts.
The real beauty is the conversation that comes later when the disappointment sets in that the pom pom didn’t grow into a beautiful flower.
Or the incredible realization from the excitement that you do run fast like a cheetah and joining the track team was the beginning of a new dream.
Be their loudest cheerleader but also be prepared for the conversation when the dream is crushed.
I honestly cannot remember if Grandmother Pete ever found out the real reason why some of her pom poms were missing on her bedspread. I believe it’s a good sign that I still have fond memories about the chenille bedspread. If she did know, she didn’t say anything to me. Thanks for the freedom to be a kid, Grandmother Pete!