To the internal soundtrack of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from Frozen, the little girl's head was filled with dreams of the most epic snowman... ever.
We need lots of snow! Check. Buttons for eyes! Check. A carrot nose! Double check! Maybe a hat! Stolen hat from Dad, check.
And it was on. Creation filled with hope and possibility. There was only one problem. The temperature was dropping and the snowman head was converting from shape-able snow to impenetrable ice way too quickly. We couldn't get the nose all the way in, because the snowman's head (like so many of our heads) was just too hard.
Nose precariously perched, the snowman was pretty good. Not quite the physical manifestation of the dream inside the girl's head... but still pretty good. Then it happened.
Time slowed down.
And the snowman's nose fell from his icy snow head. Tumbling, down, and further down until the old vegetable landed with a resounding thunderous boom in snow at our creation's feet. Maybe it would be ok. Maybe we could get it and fix it. Perhaps we could pack some new snow around the carrot to pack the nose more securely. Then it happened. Before the girl could recover the vegetative nasal perfection lying peacefully in the snow...
...the dog jumped on it and ate it immediately. Not an unimpressive performance actually.
This was bad on two levels. First, the snowman now looked like a nightmare of Cyrano de Bergerac, noseless after some horrible French accident filled with swords and music and angst. Second, the dog has a sensitive stomach. There is no chance that we won't see that carrot again. That will be, you know, kinda gross.
And the replacement nose was substandard at best.
The girl was disappointed. Why does the difference between the dream and the reality have to be so LARGE?
It's a good question. And as I was struggling for an answer, I thought of four things that might make the next time a little better.
1) Build flexibility into the plan.
We're not professional snowmen makers. And growing up in an area of the country with less snow... my skills in this area are lacking. Knowing that, we should have realistic expectations. Chances are low that this will go off without a hitch. If you plan for some bumps in the road, they won't be devastating when you hit them. Pack in some time to recover as part of the plan - rarely will things go perfectly.
2) Let the snags add to the magic of the moment.
From the perspective of the six year old really looking forward to building a Disney snowman of her very own, this was disappointing. But you have to admit... even for her... the whole dog thing will be comedy gold for years to come. Don't let the minor snafu steal the magic of the moment, or the magic of the bigger picture. The memory of a family playing in the snow together is a good one, disappearing carrot and all.
3) Approach creativity with a lot of grace.
Birth is messy. So is songwriting, sculpting, painting, writing, church planting, thinking and pretty much anything new. Nothing comes fully formed and fully capable - there is a learning curve in life and in all human activity. Be ok with early steps looking like the early steps of a toddler... with lots of fumbling and falling and wobbly goodness. Whenever you take on something new, that you haven't mastered yet, give yourself and your team of snowy engineers a lot of grace.
4) Don't give the old dog a moldy carrot.
That's not a brilliant metaphor. Take this one completely literally and just don't do it. He will make noises no living thing should ever make and yak it up onto the carpet later and upset Karen.
So build your snowmen and let little girls everywhere delight in the process, learning to love a little better every day and learning to never, ever, ever give up.