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‘We’ll do it together’

For children, your example is more powerful than fear

A few weeks ago, my sons and I attended the summer reading program at the Orange Grove Public Library. We stumbled upon the event when we went to exchange our books for new ones. Upon entering the front doors, we noticed a sign-in table and a man dressed as an astronaut in one of the side rooms.

“Can we check out what’s going on in there, Mommy?” my youngest son asked. Always game for something to do on long summer days, I agreed, and we entered the room filled with about 20 kids, aged about 5-12.

The kids were all seated on the floor in the center of the room, listening to the librarian talk about two of the summer reading books while the adults occupied chairs placed around the edges of the room. I found a chair in the second row and smiled encouragingly at my eldest son, who looked back at me with nervous uncertainty.

Kelsie Dove’s youngest son, Ramsey, learns to drive the robot.


After a few minutes, we learned that the day’s activity involved groups creating obstacle courses for the librarian’s robot, Oggie. Group work, with complete strangers? My stomach clenched, and my mouth went dry.

“Glad this is for the kids and not me,” I thought. No sooner had I finished that thought than my youngest son came to me in tears followed by my eldest son, his face a mirror of my own apprehension and nervousness.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. My son’s little voice quivered as he said, “I’m scared.” My heart melted, and I immediately searched for a way to ease the discomfort.

“Do you want to go?” I replied. The librarians had started organizing groups, and I felt confident we could sneak out without being rude. “

“I want to do it,” my youngest said, “but I’m scared.”

His honesty and vulnerability killed all the platitudes and cliches before they could cross my lips. He had simply articulated my own feelings. How could I tell him to “be brave” or “put yourself out there” while harboring my own doubts, misgivings and fears? I sat for a moment in indecision, and then I realized the path forward.

“I’ll go with you,” I said. “We’ll do it together.”


Kelsie Dove’s eldest son, Leon, constructs a ramp

So often as parents, we expect our kids to overcome the very fears and anxieties we harbor ourselves while offering them the very encouragement that we need to hear and accept. My fear and anxiety in those moments were the same as my sons’. I feared looking foolish and being rejected, just as they did. And while our kids must learn to overcome those fears on their own, we provide their first lessons for doing so — through our words, but more through our actions.

I joined my son’s group, introduced myself to the other mom who had volunteered to help facilitate (one of three extremely courageous women in that room), and offered help to the kids around me. While my oldest son declined to join us at first, after a few minutes, he came over and helped construct one of our main course obstacles. My youngest son was chosen to drive the robot through the obstacle course, and the pride on his face reflected the pride I felt in my heart.

Both of my boys overcame their fears and created meaningful memories. As a parent, I could feel no greater accomplishment than that which came from showing them how.

Written by Kelsie Dove

Kelsie Dove is an English teacher at Gulfport High School and a founding
contributor for Gulf Coast Mom. She can be reached at

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