"I'm not doing kapa haka this year."
In seven short words, said casually as she handed her mobile phone in for the night, my 14-year-old broke my heart.
Well OK, maybe I am being a tad dramatic there, but if not heartbroken I am just a little bit sad.
For the past nine years, kapa haka has been part of our family life, and for seven of those years, kapa haka was very much a part of hers.
Two years before she was born, Angie Belcher's book The Girls in the Kapa Haka was published, quickly becoming one of my favourite books to borrow from the library and read to my then 1-year-old son.
"These are the poi that circled and twirled above the heads of the singing girls who wore the piupiu that swished and swirled..."
The words, combined with the illustrations by Debbie Tipuna, were as magical as any fairytale I could read, bringing to life a world I had never imagined as a child myself.
As an English immigrant to Aotearoa New Zealand in my 20s, I found kapa haka was one of the many aspects of my new home I just couldn't get enough of. Pushing pushchairs around Hamilton Lake with friends from my antenatal group, I would often stop to watch pūkeko in awe, while my Kiwi friends rolled their eyes, calling them "boring" or "pests". I would get the same eye roll when I stopped to take photos of the stunning crimson pohutukawa against a blue sky, something I still always pause to admire now, even after 20 plus years of living here in Aotearoa.
So I was thrilled when kapa haka sprang off the pages of the book and into real life for me when a few years later my son joined the kapa haka group at his primary school here in Stratford. And when his little sister joined him on stage two years later, proudly twirling her poi, I really did feel all my dreams had come true.
For the next few years, I proudly watched from the audience as my two eldest tamariki performed with their school friends in various assemblies and competitions. The words they sang might have been in a language I barely understood, but they spoke to my heart and filled me with joy.
Years passed, and kapa haka remained - the older two went on to their respective high schools, continuing their kapa haka journey with new teachers and friends, and I continued to inundate my friends and family back in the UK with pictures and videos of kapa haka performances.
So when my now teenage daughter told me she was no longer going to be one of the poi-twirling, piupiu-swishing girls in the kapa haka, I was more than a little bit disappointed. She said it was because she wasn't particularly good at it, and maybe that's true, or maybe it's because her friends don't do it, or because she's just too busy with other commitments this year, I don't know, and actually, it doesn't matter.
It's her choice, and like so many moments in parenting, especially when it comes to teenagers, I just have to let her get on with making her own decisions and choosing her own direction. She isn't here to live out my dreams about life in Aotearoa New Zealand, she is here to find and follow her own dreams wherever they take her in the world.
Last weekend, those dreams took her to Palmerston North where she was booked in for her first pointe shoe fitting. Getting to the pointe stage has been something she has aimed for over the years of ballet, and while I might think forcing your toes into such an unnatural and odd position is crazy, she is delighted to be starting this torturous journey. My mother is thrilled too. A ballet dancer for many years herself, she had always dreamt of seeing her daughter excel at ballet. Sadly for her, I have all the balance and grace of a drunken hippo in high heels walking across an ice rink and was a ballet class dropout by the age of seven. I am sure my mother was a tiny bit heartbroken the day I announced I was trading my ballet shoes for a Brownie Guide hat, but she never gave me anything but her unwavering support for my choices - just as I now have to do for my own daughter.
Because no matter what dreams our children choose to chase, as parents we have to remember they are their dreams, not ours. They aren't here to live our lives or fulfil our expectations, they are on their own path and will choose their own stage to shine on.
So whether she chooses to twirl in a tutu or a piupiu, with poi or with pointe shoes, I will always be the proud parent in the wings cheering her on. Ballet wasn't my destiny (and turns out, I wasn't much better at Brownies either), but maybe being the kind of parent who lets their children choose their own dreams is.