I'd love to say that my kids are always up for an adventure. That they're brave beyond their years, happy to try new things. But that's simply not always the case. I suspect that's true for most children.
For some reason, both my boys are quite scared of animals. I'm sure that's partly because we don't have any pets (Big Arrow is terribly allergic to dogs and cats.) When we were asked to participate in a falconry course at Adare Manor in Ireland, I was relatively certain it was just going to involve lots of hysterical crying and two boys clinging to my legs while I tried to get them to participate.
So to convince them that this was a good idea (indeed, one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities), I had to dig deep into the parenting bag of tricks and drop the ultimate incentive.
Big Arrow has been begging us to read the Harry Potter series to him for a year now, so when I told him HP has an owl and that we were going to get to hold some owls, his initial look of terror transformed into a "how quickly can we get started" look.
Needless to say, it was incredible. I had no idea how majestic these birds could be once you're so close you can see the individual feathers. The staff was terrific with my boys. Big Arrow in particular really warmed up to these creatures and now has a real interest in learning more about birds. They shared just enough information, at his level, to keep his attention. I loved the sense of pride he had each time he held a different breed.
And my husband and I got to enjoy a welcome moment as traveling parents--we got to join in the fun, too.
Little Arrow didn't get quite as brave as Big Arrow when it came to holding the owls, but he loved the experience and watched all of us very closely while we were holding them. I'm certain if he were a year or two older he would have jumped right in too. I can't imagine how large those birds must feel to a guy his size.
So thanks, JK Rowling. I owe you one.
Disclosure: Adare Manor hosted my family for a night, which included this falconry experience. All opinions are my own.
This post is a part of Friday Postcards at Walking on Travels.