Feed Me Books Friday: Bring on the Bravery!

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?
Humor Helps
The Tale of Custard the DragonIt’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: capl@washjeff.edu


Terri July 19, 2011 at 3:13 PM  

Oh goodness... I wish I had words of advice for you, but we failed miserably at swimming lessons. Like you, "Did not participate" at the end. I've just decided to work with her as much as I can this summer before ever put her in swim lessons again!

Brimful Curiosities August 11, 2011 at 5:29 PM  

Finally getting around to reading blogs again. Was MIA in July, partly due to a busy schedule filled with things like....swimming lessons! Luckily we had very HOT weather during our two weeks and the pool felt delightful.

Hope your son got over his dislike of the cold water. My daughter had some real fear issues with fear of swimming but she made great strides this year including jumping in the pool and completely dunking her head as well as fetching items from the bottom. Hopefully next year she'll be ready to let go, relax and swim. One great thing about our public pool...when it gets too cold, they heat it!

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