Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tide Pooling is Not For Everybody

Well this past winter I signed Z and I up for a Toddler Tide Pooling Class. All winter and spring I dreamed of the two of us in summer garb exploring our local seacoast. I love the ocean, have a zoology degree in fact, and couldn't wait to pass this love on to my son.

The morning of our first class I packed our backpack, lathered on the sunscreen and told Z all about the fish we were going to see. We drove the hour to the coast and we practically skipped into the center. There we met the most wonderful and enthusiastic teacher. She greeted us with a big smile and didn't even mind that we were 20 minutes early!! We started in right away on the warm up activities (coloring, making binoculars out of toilet paper rolls and exploring shells) and Z was really having fun. The other kids started to arrive and I couldn't wait to get out and explore. This was going to be everything I had been dreaming about (you probably know where I am going with this....).

About 5 minutes before class was to start, Z was getting restless. He was done with all of the warm up activities and wanted to run around and explore the center. I don't blame him, there are lots of fish tanks, a touch tank and lots of cool pictures to look at. So I took him off to see the sights before our class began. This may not have been a good idea.....

When class finally was about to begin, I had to drag Z back to the class kicking and screaming (which was so embarrassing). He finally calmed down with the "Hello" song (he loves music) and even sat quietly through the next song. After that he was done....he went to the window and called out "Water! Water! Water!". I tried to explain that we would be going out very soon.

The teacher brought out the next activity which were two really cool touch tanks. One was filled with crabs and the other periwinkles and sea urchins. Z wanted nothing to do with them. He was the only child who did not flock to the tanks and touch all that was inside. He wouldn't even touch the water (he LOVES water!!). He kept saying "NO" over and over. Oh well I guess he doesn't share my love for sea creatures.

When it was finally time to go outside, Z sprinted for the door. I chased him and tried to keep him with the group. He wanted that water!!! However, the water was on the other side of some rocky cliffs....not too safe for a 21 month old. The days walk would end at the top of the cliffs, looking in tide pools. This was not good enough for Z! I spent the next 35 minutes trying to keep him safe and distracted as he tried to find a way to get to that water. The teacher tried so hard to pull him in and he wanted nothing to do with her. She would put a cool shell in his bucket, he would dump it out. The only thing he liked were the rocks. I guess I could have save a whole lot of money by letting him play with the rocks in our yard!

I finally tried to reason with my not even two year old and told him that if he looked in the tide pools we would go to the beach and go in the water after class. This finally worked (although I had to keep reminding him of my promise).

I left the class not sure of what to think of my experience. It had been a gorgeous day and would have been so much fun if Z were a little older. I had to remind myself that he is only 21 months old and if he doesn't find periwinkles and crabs exciting that is okay. We have three more classes and I have decided to take a new approach. I will now follow his lead, if he doesn't want to look at sea life, we will go and look at what he wants to look at (even if it is rocks :)).

I made him an ocean bucket filled with all of his ocean books and toys so that he could explore before our next trip. I also made him a book about the animals he saw and the class. He loves the book and the bucket and can now identify kelp, seaweed, lobster, sea star, clam and sea horse....not too bad!

So we will see how next week goes, next week we will be at a different spot and he will be able to have his feet in the water the whole time if he wants. I think that will be a lot better :)

Happy 4th of July Everyone!!!


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