We have been talking a bit about how fun it can be to be scared sometimes. The season of ghoulish imagery, mysterious masked people, and shadow is upon us and this can feel frightening sometimes to young children. We have been talking about how many of these decorations we see are just for fun- the fun and excitement of being scared!
One topic that has led to this discussion is the return of one of our favorite songs- ‘Who Were The Witches’, by Bonnie Lockhart. The song speaks highly of true, historical witches and what they helped people with. It also sings that people were scared of the powers they have, but that these powers to help and heal should be shared. (We don’t get into the actual scary bits- the terrifying persecution of women.) The children beg for this song almost daily! I don’t like the ugly imagery around witches with green skin and big moles flying around that was used as a scare tactic to do torturous things to these women, but it is an inevitable image these children will see. So we conversely also sing a silly song with 5 little pumpkins and a cackling witch flying in to swoop them up one by one and make a pie. We usually preface this song by saying, “this is a silly song about witches where we pretend they are scary, but real witches aren’t scary, right?”. The children agree and many of them share who in their family is most certainly a witch. “Sometimes it can be exciting to be scared, so you might see witches or skeletons or other decorations and costumes right now that look a little bit scary. Are skeletons actually scary?”. The children all shout “no!”, and ” It’s just our bones!”.
We also started telling scary stories. During circle time on Monday I told the children to get ready for a scary story- you can ask a friend or neighbor if they’d like to huddle close to you.
Seeing them excitedly brace themselves for the story was so sweet. It reminded me of a Frog and Toad story where they practice being brave together by looking for scary things to overcome. So we read this familiar story and I asked the children to tell me about being brave.
AD: I’m not even afraid of dragons! I’m very brave.
LS: when I’m going on an adventure and I see a big log I go like this (stiffens body and pulls back). Sometimes there’s a big log with mushrooms growing out of it, but I’m very brave.
SM: When I went to the zoo, I wasn’t even scared of a cheetah.
Katee: Hmm, so if you see something scary, but you’re not scared, does that mean you’re brave?
CL: No, no you have to be scared to be brave! You have to be scared to be brave because if you’re scared and you do it, then you can be brave. Because only brave people do things that are scary, that you’re afraid to do.
Katee: Oh! CL is saying that you have to be scared to be brave. If it isn’t scary, then you don’t need bravery. Maybe you have to be scared first to be brave.
Alisha: Yeah, can you be scared and brave at the same time?
Katee: Yeah, CL is saying it’s required. You have to be facing something scary in order to be brave about it. So like, are you all afraid of this ukulele?
Katee: Does that make you brave?
Many: Yes! yes? um, yes!
Alisha: Well, I am a little scared to play ukulele in front of people because I’m still learning. So when I do, I have to be kinda brave, since I’m feeling pretty shy and scared.
Katee: Oh, so I hear that sometimes were scared, not because something is dangerous, but also because we might just be feeling shy.
CL: Like today, I’m going to dance in front of everyone all by myself and I’m scared because I’ve never done that before. I’m gonna be brave because I have to do it.
HE: I am brave about butterflies, but when I was at Elm House I wasn’t yet. I used to scared of butterflies, but I got more braver about it.
Katee: I think you all are so brave actually. I remember SM used to be so afraid of bees, and now she helps protect the bees and she’s pet dead bees, even though she was afraid of them.
DB: Do you remember that time I was a little bit older and I went to my downstairs school and teacher Alisha was at the door first and I was kinda shy of her and I never went to this school before but when I got bigger I liked it. But I didn’t even know her name.
Alisha: Yeah, it took a lot of bravery from all of you to come here on your first day of school. To be at school without your families..
Katee: You are all brave everyday when you say goodbye to your family in the morning. Isn’t it hard to say goodbye to your family in the morning sometimes?
MH: nods a lot
Katee: Yeah, it can be a little bit scary to say goodbye when you’re not sure what is gonna happen here, and you don’t want them to leave. Even if you’re not new at this school- you are so brave to stand on your own and wave goodbye to your family for a while.
EB: One time I actually saw a bumble bee but actually I didn’t go away from it.
Katee: You didn’t back away. Were you feeling really brave when you did that?
EB: mm hmm
FC: I was brave to peel an avocado because I never even done that before! It was not scary, it was just the peel.
Alisha: hmm, CL said you have to be a little afraid to be brave.
FC: well, I was a little but scared.
Alisha: why were you a little bit scared?
FC: because, it was my first time to
Katee: mm, sometimes just doing something for the first time, you might be a little nervous.
FC: yeah, nervous. But now I peel avocados hundreds! And I love them!
ER: You have to be sad to be brave.
Katee: you do?
ER: yeah! If you feel scared, you can read a book.
Katee: oh, can reading a book help you feel brave?
Katee: So ER said that sometimes you might not be scared, but you could be sad, or shy, or nervous when you’re brave. I think that’s really true.