Tie-Dye, Daughters and Dreams

On the last day of Pompositticut Farm Day Camp, my daughter came home wearing a tie-dye t-shirt she'd made, eager to do more.

At the risk of my being a trifle embarrassed, I'd like to share with you what happened over the next five days.


Friday, July 6, pm
Miranda: Mom, let's buy a tie-dye kit.
Me: Ok, but not today, we'll buy the kit tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, pm
Miranda: Mom, we have the kit, now let's do the tie-dye.
Me: But we don't have any t-shirts. It's 7pm; this'll have to wait until Monday.

Sunday, July 8, am
Miranda: Mom, can't we do something? Like mix the dye, and watch the how-to DVD?
Me: (Unenthusiastically) Yes, yes, you can mix the dye. Ok, I'll watch the DVD with you.
Miranda: Mom, isn't this fun watching the DVD (she's lounging in my lap)?
Me: Yes, it is fun (we contentedly smile at one another).

Monday, July 9, pm
Miranda: Mom, can we do the tie-dye now?
Me: Nope. We need to pre-wash the t-shirts. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 10, am
Miranda: Mom, the t-shirts are washed; can we do the tie-dye now?
Me: (Groggily, reluctantly) Ok.

Tuesday, July 10, am
Miranda: (Squeezing the dye onto the t-shirts) Mom, you're doing a good job of helping me.
Miranda: (While I'm driving her to camp) Isn't tie-dye fun? (Exuberantly) You can make anything with tie-dye!!

Comprehension. Understanding.

Had it been up to my daughter, she would have purchased the tie-dye kit, the t-shirts, AND done the tie-dye project on Friday evening.

In other words, she would have done her dream right then — do and/or dye.

But she couldn't, because for 6 year-olds, parents are the gatekeepers of dreams.

To be fair, to ourselves, and, more importantly, to our own parents, none of us are trying to be mean, or even difficult, we're just trying to make it through our own lives.

But children don't, and developmentally, can't know that.

Rather than seeing their parents' reluctance as being about their parents, they interpret it to mean something about them — they can't, shouldn't

Replay this script thousands of times throughout their (our) childhood, and by the time we're adults, we've become genuine, certified, “nothing gets past our gate” gatekeepers.

We are so good, that getting past the gate of our doubting self, may indeed require a dare.

I'm going to dare.

Will you too?

The next time our kids want to do a project (child-speak: dream), and we just don't have it in us that day, can we say I'm exhausted tonight, but I really want you to do this, I like that you are thinking resourcefully, creatively, and cannot wait to see what you will do?

Instead of taking 4-5 days to get to their dream, how about 2-3 days? Remember — baby steps.

Let's observe how we're interacting with the children in our lives. Are there any clues about what might be keeping us from our dreams?

And when we do learn from children (at their expense), why not tell the story of what they've taught us about how to dream?

P.S. The above photograph is courtesy of Miranda and her two tye-dyed shirts, and my learning how to upload a photograph onto the blog.

Contact Us

Fill out this form and we will follow up to create a customized plan to help you build a smart growth organization.

Media & Press Inquiries

including requesting Whitney as a guest on your podcast

Media & Press Inquiries arrow_forward

Gain insight into growth, adaptability and agility

Download our free resources outlining the Accelerants of Growth—including books, podcasts and TEDtalks to help you move up your S Curve of Learning.