Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Dream Squasher

I have a daughter named Corinne.  She goes by Cori.  She's 17, and she's cute and smart and talented.  She attends high school and college, all at the same time.  She holds down two part-time jobs and babysits.  Takes piano lessons.  Sings like an angel.  Recently made Carrot Top a sandwich.  Has eclectic interests and a circle of friends to match.

She's also insane.  Certifiable.  Completely, unutterably bonkers.

My beautiful, gifted child has fallen victim to what I call "Disney Channel Syndrome."  She actually believes the things she sees in movies, reads in magazines, and hears in motivational speeches.

I know.  Tragic, right?

My diagnosis was confirmed last week when Cori announced that if she weren't allowed to spend a gazillion dollars on a concert ticket, drive alone from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, stay in a hotel, and attend a music festival comprised entirely of Korean pop bands, she would have no choice but to toss us into the Betty Ford Clinic for Criminally Micro-Managing Parents and throw away the key.

A rather extreme reaction to, "Honey, I just don't see how we could make that work," wouldn't you say?

The thing is, she saw this as just another example of how we're trying to ruin her life and keep her from realizing her full potential.  The fact that she believed her full potential could only be realized by moving to Seoul and training to be in the next musical sensation to grind out of their pop culture mill was, to her, perfectly rational.  Don't tell her that she's not Korean.  Or Japanese.  Or even an almond-eyed white girl.  It's irrelevant.  All that mattered was, she's a rabid fan who was missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see her favorite groups perform and perhaps even meet them, at which time they'd say, "Oh, my gosh!  You're just what we've been looking for!  Come!  Sing and dance and be happy and famous with us!"  Only in Korean.

And of course, it was all our fault.

But, in fairness, she was behaving exactly the way you would expect her to if she were starring in, say, "Cheetah Girls."  Or "High School Musical 50: Walkers and Wheelchairs."  Or my personal favorite, "Twhy - weren't - there - vampires - around - when - we - lived - in - Seattle?"

In every one of those stories, there's a protagonist who has a great big dream that no one really understands.  The world just doesn't get that this kid, this one individual out of the six billion on the planet, is totally different from all the rest of humanity.  And the only thing standing between this uber awesome girl and the fame and glory that are her due, is...

...The Dream Squasher.

And guess who is always cast in that role?  That's right.  The evil mother.  Only she's not really evil.  She's worse.  She's *gulp* Reasonable. The one who has to say, "Sweetie, we're just regular folks, living regular lives.  Stardom is for those touched by God, like Miley Cyrus or Sylvester Stallone.  Let that dream go, baby.  Accept that your place is behind the counter at our family's Paint Ball Emporium and Tofu Warehouse."

So what choice does the poor, misunderstood star have?  She's forced to move in with a one-eyed tap dancing instructor who was recently released from a Chinese prison camp and speaks Esperanto.  The idea is, once she shows up on "The Universe Only Thinks It's Got Talent" and wins everything, including a 2011 Subaru and immortality, The Dream Squasher will finally be vanquished forever.

Backstage, the Now-Fully-Understood Mega Star and The Dream Squasher will have a tearful reunion, where the exchange will run along the lines of, "Mom, I'm sorry, but I had to take control of my own destiny!" and The Dream Squasher will say, "It's all right, honey.  I was a stupid old fool who should have known that I couldn't keep a light as bright as yours from shining on the whole world.  It has been an honor, nay, a sacred privilege, to be your mother.  Seriously, if I could have you autograph my uterus, I totally would." 

They hug, the one-eyed tap dancer comes along and, tugging the girl's arm, says, "Jerr finzz ba klumpdin rahde!  Blort!  Blort!", which evidently is the Esperanto signal for the Star to be hurtled into her rightful place in the cosmos, while The Dream Squasher fades into ignominious oblivion.

Oh.  It is just so touching.  Specifically, it touches that one spot right in the back of the throat...

I adore my daughter, I really do.  And I can't blame her for buying into this nonsense.  But nonsense it is, and as long as I'm wearing the Dream Squasher uniform, I might as well clear up a few more myths swirling around like whirlpools in the otherwise pleasant waters of adolescence. 

Myth 1: You can do anything you put your mind to.

To test the truthfulness of this claim, decide right now to be three inches taller.  Do it!  Do it!  Just put your mind to it, and it will totally happen!  (... how's it working out so far?)  Fact is, you'll probably have to work really hard all of your life, just to remain comfortably average.  There's no shame in this.  Your parents have been doing it for years, and look how happy they are! 

Myth 2: Good parents support their kids in everything they do.

Really?  Just try shoplifting, even once.  Smoking dope.  Running away.  Unless you define "support" as "a grounding so aggressive it has you envying coma patients," you're going to have to admit that this one's bogus.

Myth 3: Making a great, ultimatum-intensive speech and then marching proudly out of the room is a terrific way to get what you want.

Have you ever wondered why they cut to commercial right after those scenes?  It turns out there's a lot more dialogue in the script.  And it's usually very "supportive". 

Myth 4: The popular kids are as misunderstood and confused as the rest of you.

No they're not.  They're really quite happy with the way things have worked out for them. 

Myth 5: Life should be "fun."

Says who?

Myth 6: Well, at least it shouldn't be "hard."

See Myth 5.

Myth 7: I'm entitled -

You know what, kiddo, I'm gonna stop you right there.  You'll only embarrass yourself.

Myth 8: "That's totally unfair!" is a persuasive argument.

In the real world, the definition of "fair" is "whatever works best for the person in charge at the moment."  Just remember, in this family at least, there are a lot of times when things are unfairly slanted in your favor.  Which means that there are at least three other people in the room squawking about how "unfair" I'm being.  It's all part of the package.

Myth 9: The best thing a parent can do is raise happy children.

Wrong.  The best thing a parent can do is raise productive, loving, independent adults.  Which leads me to...

Myth 10: Someday you'll thank me for squashing a few of your dreams.

That's all right.  You don't need to thank me.  Simply moving out of my basement will be thanks enough.



Mallory said...

I think I play the role of The Dream Squasher for my husband. He still thinks he is going to be a full-time inventor, living in a beautiful house, with a beautiful yard, with beautiful fruit trees and a beautiful garden, along with his beautiful wife and 8 beautiful kids, and all the money we want...all within the next 15-20 years. It's depressing.

Kristina P. said...

YOu also squashed Annie's dream of every being pictured on your blog, since you just cut her right out of that picture.

And honestly, I think you are being highly unreasonable. I mean Carrot Top and Jennifer Aniston are somehow famous, and one of them gives me nightmares at night, while the other one is a redhead Incredible Hulk.

Hel said...

Yes, I sometimes wonder what sort of monster I am creating every time I put on a Disney movie.

We watched Cinderella just yesterday and I sat there with my eyes opened - REALLY you just wish it and you get it.... give me some of what that girl Cinderella is on!!!

Zach said...

Dream Squasher?? I think the term, "Kite String" is a more appropriate term!

Cheeseboy said...

I'm with you on all accounts.

Now, someday I want to hear the story of making Carrot Top a sandwich.

T said...

I think I need to print out this post and decoupage it onto the 15 yr old's wall.

I think we should have "Dream Squasher a.k.a. Mom" shirts!

MommyJ said...

She is a lovely girl.

My role of dream squasher hasn't quite taken off yet. I mean, I definitely squash dreams, but they are still of the smallish variety...

"No, you may not spend twelve hours playing the Wii."

"No, you may not have cotton candy for dinner."

That sort of thing. I'm looking forward to the bigger stuff though. Especially after this post.

Terresa said...

I wear the Dream Squasher uniform, too, I think it fits pretty well. After nine years, I've grown into it.

PS: Your daughter made Carrot Top a sandwich?! How the, where the, why the???

Gina said...

Here, here!

Excellent post, dream squasher, I commend you!

Annette Lyon said...

Every teen needs to read this. (Esp. the "unfair" part. Oy.)

By chance did she even KNOW who Sylvester Stallone is?

Connie said...

Your daughter is a real achiever!

Whenever I squashed dreams,(and I've been doing it for decades) the response from the dreamer would be, "Ah!" (insert eye roll) "What could happen?"

I'm with you all the way, you little squasher, you!

I hope Carrot Top said, "thank-you!"

Kimberly said...

My word verification is "bustexts." The possibly interpretations are many and varied.

There are so many clips from SO many movies playing in my head right now that I can't possibly manage a coherent comment.

Cori :) said...

Wow. I've been telling my mom to write a post about me for MONTHS, and this is what she chooses to write about? Really??

And in response to Annette Lyon,of course I know who sylvester stallone is! When I'm not being "supported", I actually have a life and do not live in a cave. Actually, the day I made Carrot Top's sandwich, I was bragging to this guy and he said he met Sylvester Stallone and Janet Jackson where he works (Fabulous Freddy's). What. A. Jerk.

And to Connie, yes he did say thank you :) he was actually very nice.

Love you, Dream Squasher! <3

Baby Sister said...

I agree! You sound like you're doing a superb job Mrs. Dream Squasher ma'am!!

Jessica said...

A posting is so much better to punish a teen than a grounding. Humiliation is perfect medicine for the angst filled teen years. I'm remembering this one and intend on using it in the future. Thanks to you and Cori.

See Mom Smile said...

I LOVE being a dream squasher! I where it proudly on a t-shirt everyday!

Melanie J said...

Ha, ha. Cori's response proves that you're doing a spectacular mom job even if she's not quite convinced of it yet.

rebecca said...

Oh, I do not envy your situation right now at all! I've been there, done that. Yeah, real fun. I always found it quite amazing that we were so blessed to have this kid that was so filled with wisdom and experience at the tender age of teendom. Why couldn't every other parent be blessed the same? Alas, "The Warden" as I was referred to, managed to in time finally open that cell from which she was held captive and release her into society with skills that she could actually use to stay out of jail and become and stay independent.


Garden of Egan said...

It's tragic, really.

I can only pray that someday you'll see the light and let that totally darling talented sweetheart do what she was meant to do.

Dream squasher.

uhm, I sorta totally admire you forever!

InkMom said...

Ha! I thought those were Annie's bangs!

I have to say, DeNae, that this post, more than any other you have ever written, sounds just like you talking. You were in my head this morning way more than usual.

And also -- I make myself three, nay, four, inches taller every single time I slip on my hot little black wedges.

Kazzy said...

Once at girls' camp we wanted to stress faith. One woman there said, "Faith is knowing you can do anything you want in this life." I. kid. you. not.


After I squash my kids' dreams I usually follow it up with, "Sorry, but as your parents we are more concerned with your safety and well-being than with your popularity."

Wendy Ramer said...

Brilliant. I'm gonna need this in a few years, so I'm archiving it in my Favorites bar.

Allyson & Jere said...

I'm totally with Mallory up there. I'm a big ol' mean dream squasher....to my HUSBAND! But, I'm fairly certain my day is a comin to squash my daughters dreams as well.

This is a brilliant post. Thanks for the clarifications and the laughs!

Oh, and lastly...Carrot Top gives me the creeps in an epic way. The hair, the face, the eye liner, it's all too much.

HalfAsstic.com said...

BWAHAHAHAHA! "Paintball Emporium and Tofu Warehouse"!
I am printing and using this against "them".

AS Amber said...

Cori, come live with Aunt Amber. I promise to let you spread your wings and fly!

I'm still in the Dream Endorser stage with my kids.

"I wish we could live at McDonalds, too, Hayden."

"Yes, Avery, living at Dinseyland would be so much fun! Maybe one day...."

PS- that is one of my most fave pictures of you ever. Maybe even THE most favorite!

Now please stop picking on my Cori.

Amy Sullivan said...

Dearest Dream Squasher,

I know I just met you, but I have a hunch I'm going to like you! :)

Ahh, those glorious teenage years. I'm SO not ready for them.

Becca said...

And do you add the bonus touch of thumb-on-her-forehead? I find this exceptionally helpful as I work to smash the dreams.

Subee41 said...

As a former dream squasher (mine are all grown and on their own now), there is nothing more exciting then watching those whose dreams I squashed now doing the same thing to their kids. The sweetest revenge is when one of them calls me and says "Mom, what am I going to do with ______?" I love being oh-so-sweet and sympathetic, but what they can't see over the phone is me pumpling my fist in the air and grinning from ear to ear!

I love your posts. I'm new to blogging and yours was one of the first I stumbled upon. Thanks for the laughs!


Lara said...

You are so inspiring (and I'm being totally serious).

I have three drama queens and I regularly squash their dreams and am unsupportive and everything else.

Just yesterday I ruined Sophia's "WHOLE LIFE!" because I wouldn't let her paint on the wall.

But I must disagree on one point. In high school and college I was 5'8" and I always wished that I could have just one more inch. So I put my mind to it, and I grew.

(Really. Only, I have no idea how it happened.)

JoeinVegas said...

Oh, you are the mean mother. At least buy her a new car to drive down there in, and a credit card for the gas.

JoeinVegas said...

Oh, you are the mean mother. At least buy her a new car to drive down there in, and a credit card for the gas.

Kel said...

I could hear the foreboding music when you announced "The Dream Squasher." I love this, I love this, I love this! I am immediately emailing the link to many of my squasher friends.

MommyToTwoBoys said...

The funniest part about this for me is this. I sat at my TV the other day to watch for just about 5 minutes (that's all I ever get these days) and it was on Disney, from in the morning when the kids watched Mickey. And I couldn't stop watching some show where two boys who were about 13 pretended to be doctors, almost performed surgery, then ran away. Then one jumped out a window to escape the police, got a broken arm, and they both got off scott free in the end. It was full of comedic one liners, that I didn't find funny, and I thought the whole thing was absurd. It made your post make SO much more sense!

Boy I am not looking forward to having young adults!

Twinmomwv said...

Ah, all I have to look forward to. Right now my time occupies squashing the dreams of owning horses when we buy a farm and watching nonstop iCarly for the remainder of summer vacation.