Friday, July 15, 2011
Curing the Cowardly
B started swimming lessons this week. He was totally looking forward to it, thrilled by the idea of learning new skills to use in the pool at home. We’ve been talking about class starting for weeks. He made it in the pool for the first class, was in tears by the end, and has refused to return. His cowardice has nothing to do with actual fears – he’s a decent swimmer already, he can touch the bottom of the pool, and he dives for toys in our pool like they’re pirate treasure. His teachers are friendly young women energetic enough to motivate a snail. So what’s he so afraid of? It’s COLD (relatively). We keep a solar cover on our pool, and thanks to our sunny climate, we enjoy balmy pool temperatures all summer long. The public pool is outdoors and considerably less like bath-water. I’ve tried all sorts of reasoning (the ocean, the sprinklers, and the slip-n-slide are all colder, but fun, he’ll be warm once he gets moving, etc.) I’ve tried bribery (we’ll stop for a treat after if he gets in for lessons.) I’ve regrettably resorted to threats (we won’t be able to sign up for sports any more if you don’t keep your commitments.) Nothing seems to entice him. So for now, T and I are splashing away in the parent-tot class I signed up for thinking I’d need to keep T busy while B swam. Help! What’s a mom to do?
It’s easy to get wrapped up and weighed down by frustration like I’ve experienced this week with the swimming lesson stand-off. I’m trying to walk a fine line between taking it seriously enough to show B that his fear is irrational and his commitment is required, and taking it lightly enough to not let it ruin my day. Books that turn expectations upside down are just the thing to lighten the mood. One we recently enjoyed that fit right into our discussion of bravery is Ogden Nash’s The Tale of Custard the Dragon. I came across it on Brimful Curiosities during poetry month (yes, mentioned Janelle last week too – she’s awesome) and requested it from our library. Loved the funny, rhyming verses, vibrant language, and entertaining illustrations by Lynn Munsinger. Custard is a cowardly dragon belonging to a young lady named Belinda. She and her other pets find cowardice a surprising trait for a “realio, trulio” dragon and he even endures some teasing from them. However, in a moment of truth involving a menacing pirate, Custard and his mouthy friends show their true colors. There’s not a moral here about bravery or friendship – don’t look for it. Instead, enjoy it for the fun rhymes, silly language, and curious plot. And when life has you rolling your eyes, try to face each challenge with a “realio, trulio” smile.
Appropriate for: preschoolers, primary grades
How do you coax a reluctant child to try something new? We’ve got one week left!
photo credit: firstname.lastname@example.org