What happens when you don’t interfere

The girls participated in their first-ever Destination Imagination tournament this weekend, and I—as one of Jilly’s Team Managers—came along for the ride. 

I’ve already written a bit about DI and how one of the major tenets is that no one can “interfere” with a team. This means that NO ONE—-not family members, friends, other teams’ members, siblings, and most definitely managers—can influence or help a team with their challenge. 

This is hard.

Every. Single. Time. my team would practice, the words, “Great Job!” would be out of my mouth before I could stop them. And four pairs of eyes would shoot quickly in my direction while my daughter cried, “MOM! No interference!

This meant I couldn’t balk when they decided to use cardboard (trash) boxes for 99% of their set and props. I couldn’t tell them to wear better costumes. I couldn’t insist that they repaint a prop, or change their script, or rethink a solution they had come up with as a team.


This was all about the four of these goofballs, ages 7-9, getting up in front of a room of people and five appraisers, and doing their thing while I sat on my hands, teeth clenched together.

And, this little crew who had never done this before? With their “trash” props and backdrop and their spare costumes? But with their own kick-ass idea, awesome poem, and amazing balsa-wood structure? Came in fourth in their regional competition, just a wee bit behind the third-place team. 

My oldest daughter, whose performance I had never even seen—who has never, ever done a lick of theater—stood on stage in total character and, at least for me, stole the show. (I can say that as a mama, right?) Her group of giggly, smart, and fabulous 10-12 year old girls tied for fifth place out of 19 teams. 

I am so proud of them. And proud of us parents who were able to keep our big mouths shut (most of the time) and keep our hands out of their work. 

Turns out, when you don’t interfere, these kids do pretty well on their own.


  1. Congrats to the kids.

    And congrats to you for butting out!

  2. That sounds like so much fun. It is so hard to keep my mouth shut. Not sure I could do it without a ball gag!

  3. Nan | Wrath Of Mom says

    Congrats to the Fairly Odd Kids. And congrats to you. This sounds like the antithesis of those Toddler-And-Tiara pageants.

  4. Kris Bordessa says

    I had DI teams for 5 years before moving to a state without an affiliate. It. Is. Awesome. And yes, that whole non-interference thing? SO hard. A great lesson for both kids AND parents!

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