What follows is the story of how I used my awesome parenting skills to introduce my son to a new experience. As you’ll see, my parenting skills include, but are not limited to: (1) Trying new things despite being completely unprepared; (2) Using threats to encourage trying new things; (3) Taking my son home from newly tried things mostly naked.
It all started with a trip to the park, which happens to be right next to the pool, which happens to have a splash park with which Alexander has previously wanted to have zero association. The splash park fountains caught Alexander’s eye from the playground, so we sauntered up to the pool fence and peered through to watch the fountains like a couple of creepers. I asked Alexander if he wanted to go get a closer look, and he replied with a resolute “No.”
Obviously I took him in there anyway, despite not having (1) his swimsuit, (2) a swim diaper, or (3) my key card (necessary to gain entry to the pool area like a legitimate resident of the neighborhood). We stood outside the pool gate for a minute, while I pretended to rummage around in my bag looking for my key even though I knew full well I didn’t have it with me, before asking someone to let me in. Luckily my neighborhood is full of friendly people and we gained entry without a problem.
We made our way over to the splash park, not at all embarrassed that we were both completely overdressed in our regular, non-swimwear clothes, and I encouraged Alexander to take a closer look. He flat out refused, until he noticed that another little toddler about his age was playing gleefully in the fountains. Suddenly, he was intrigued. Holding my hand for security, he inched closer to the fountains, using the tiny, shuffling steps he uses whenever he’s curious about something new.
I eventually convinced him to let go of my hand (in exchange for my sunglasses), and he hesitantly scoped out the scene.
He was intrigued enough to investigate further.
At which point he made a hasty retreat.
We hung out for a bit, and I tried to encourage him to give it another shot. He was reluctant, to say the least. We’d been out in the sun for awhile at this point, so I suggested that maybe it was time to go home and take a nap. This idea did not go over well, and here is where I saw my opportunity.
“Alexander,” I offered, “we can go home, or you can go play in the water.” Still, he was hesitant, clearly unsure about the lesser of the two evils.
“Do you want to go home?” I asked.
He firmly shook his head “No.”
“Then go play in the water,” I commanded in my sternest Mom Voice.
I know, I know, I totally shouldn’t use threats to coerce my kid to do what I want him to do. But hell if it didn’t work.
He had the time of his life. I eventually had to go in myself and drag him out, soaked and shivering. He would have played all afternoon if I’d let him. And, let’s be honest, I’d happily have watched him run around and squeal with joy all afternoon, but I thought I should try to be a somewhat responsible parent and get him out of his wet clothes in time for his nap.
Of course, I didn’t have (1) a change of clothes for him or (2) anything resembling a towel, so I just peeled off his clothes, put a dry diaper on him (I was at least a LITTLE prepared), and we walked the two blocks home like this: