about one's ears

[about one's ears] or [around one's ears] {adv. phr.} To or into complete collapse, defeat, or ruin; to the destruction of a person's plans, hopes, or happiness.

They planned to have factories all over the world but the war brought their plans down about their ears.

John hoped to go to college and become a great scientist some day, but when his father died he had to get a job, and John's dreams came crashing around his ears.

Compare: ON ONE'S HEAD.