Monday, November 28, 2011

Try something new (again)

Thanksgiving was a fun long weekend.  My partner and I packed up the chitlins and headed over the river and through the woods to her mother's house.  We not only had the pleasure of hanging out with her mother, but also Wes and Retha, Steph's brother and sister in law.  Some cameos were made by my parents and various aunts, uncles and cousins as well.  Lot's of food, stories, memories and experiences were shared.  Realistically, it was the embodiment of a holiday with family.

A little back story.  My kids, as cute and brave as they are, really don't like dogs. There are other animals that fall into this category, but for this example, I will be using dogs.  When I say they don't like them, I am not speaking of 'they are of the devil and must repent' type of dislike, but rather they appreciate the animal from a distance.  My kids love to pretend and role play as animals, but when it comes to the real deal, they shy away.

Steph and I have speculated how this dislike has come into being.  Our biggest suspicion is the cat that we used to have.  Once Ian started to move around on his own, said cat would essentially terrorize him.  And Lydia.  It is from this that we believe the skittishness around animals came into being.  

So, for all of those nice summer days of playing in the front yard or heading to the farmers market, each time a dog would pass us by, my children would scurry away and hide behind their parents.  I have tried to break them of this by showing that the animals are kind, letting the owner reassure the kids and just trying to get them more relaxed.  It is a cyclical thing, the kids are anxious, which makes the animal anxious, which makes the kids more get the pattern.

So back to this weekend.  Wes and Retha have a pug named Bear.  Cousin Bear if you asked Wes, Retha or my kids.  Yes, Bear is spoiled, but she is so cute!  See...
The mighty Bear! (photo curtesy of Wes Highley)
I went into the weekend with the knowledge that Bear was going to be at the house.  I knew that for the most part, she would stay down stairs in the basement, mostly to keep her hair confined to that space and not the rest of the house.  I also knew that Wes REALLY wanted the kids to play with Bear, mostly to see how Bear would handle interacting with young children.  So begins the social experiment.

Wes had three days to accomplish things.  He needed to start easy, but move quickly if he was going to have the kids and the dog interacting with each other.  Long story short, it was a success.  By the end of the weekend, my kids wanted to go see the dog, to play with her and to pet her.  Now, it wasn't a sweeping 'we want to frolic with a dog all of the time'; Lydia would go down, but still kept her distance when Bear was out on a leash.

I am hoping that through this experience my kids are at least more relaxed around other animals if not a bit more willing to interact with them.  I attribute the change in my kids to a comfortable and friendly environment, trusted family around and a fairly easygoing dog.  I really enjoyed seeing their faces light up instead of cringing in fear and anxiety.  Thanks Bear! (and Wes and Retha).  

Lesson learned:  Even if you don't like something, even if you feel that it is not worth taking another go at, try again.  My kids didn't like dogs getting close to them, and now they are willing to pet at least one.  It may not be an old dog and new tricks situation, but it can be a new experience.

Here is a video of them giving treats to Bear.  (My apologies about the audio, I need to learn how to hold the iPhone correctly)

For the record: I still am not going to eat a banana, for those of you wondering.

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