Max is almost finished with his first round of Mom & Tot gymnastics lessons that I got for my birthday
He has had a blast zooming down slides, tossing foam cubes, and learning to spread peanut butter and jelly all over his arms, legs and hair. (It’s pretend PB&J: the coach’s “recipe” for stretching at the beginning of class.)
The coach says at least once each week that he can teach any kid how to do a handstand or a cartwheel, but sharing is the real test. This usually comes up when one kid takes another kid’s foam cube or hula hoop or cuts in the line for the slide.
Author/illustrator Beth Arnold sent Max a copy of her book Elijah Makes New Friends, and the pages reminded us of the goal of our gymnastics classes: to learn to socialize with other toddlers. In the book, a sensitive boy named Elijah notices several outsiders while playing other sports and games and invites them to join in:
- The first outsider is overweight and the other children don’t want to play with him until Elijah makes them get to know him. That’s when they find out what a good pitcher he is.
- The next friendless friend-to-be is from a different country and dresses like her own culture. When Elijah invites her to eat lunch with him, the other children discover how funny she is.
- The last friend in the book is a differently-abled boy in a wheelchair. When Elijah includes him in a game, all the other children realize how smart he is.
The book emphasizes that all people have feelings and want to make friends, and that when you really get to know someone, it might surprise you how much you enjoy being with them. With bullying going on in and out of schools, the more Max hears this message, the better, in my mind. I don’t want him to be a bully or to let others bully around him. Thank you, Beth, for giving us such a great example that deserves 4 snacks: