Brave as a Tiger
One of C’s favorite books used to be "Quick as a Cricket". This is simply a board book where each page has an illustration with a single phrase, like "Quick as a Cricket", "Happy as a Lark", "Brave as a Tiger", and so forth.
About a year ago we were eating dinner at a family reunion in one of the huge hotels that they have down here (it’s called the Gaylord Palms). Towards the end of the meal, C was getting very antsy. I took him for a little walk through the cavernous lobby.
We wandered around a bit and found ourselves in a fairly dark area that is part of a recreation of an old fort. C started getting a bit jittery at this point, and understandably so. There were dancing shadows, strange noises, and weirdly lit water falls. As we were moving slowly through, someone dropped a serving tray. The loud crash was too much. C grabbed on to my leg and hung on for dear life.
Decision time. I probably should have picked him up and retreated, but that seemed like the wrong call to make. Instead, I knelt down so I was at his level and said "it’s okay. Let’s be brave. Brave as a tiger."
He thought about that for a minute or two and then looked at me and said quietly "Brave as a tiger. Rowr."
There are few things cuter than a whispered "Rowr". I smiled and said "Rowr!" back. He gave another (louder) "Rowr!" and we were off exploring again, talking about how brave tigers are.
Fast forward now to yesterday evening, bath time. C ran into his room to get ready. I followed more slowly, taking time to pick up some wayward toys. I didn’t get too far before he ran back to grab my hand. Looking up at me, he said "Scared. C scared. Dark."
Together, we walked into the room and closed the door behind us without turning the light on. It was pretty dark, and he was holding my hand awfully tightly. I decided to try it again. I got down to his level and said very softly and reassuringly "Let’s be brave. Brave as a tiger. Rowr!"
His eyes widened and he looked around wildly. "Tiger? Tigers!"
Before I could answer, he grabbed my leg with both arms, his voice close to panic: "Tigers?!"