Since he could sit on his bum, little gosling enjoyed watching the rain. We used to sit out together on our lovely terrace, watching the South African summer rain pour down onto the grass and bushes; hearing its constant and relaxing pattering on the plastic-like terrace roof, among the loudest thunders and longest and brightest lightnings I had ever heard and seen. They startled me every time! To this day, he runs to the window crying “ohh, it’s raining!!” and asks to go on the balcony and just watch it rain. He also enjoys being outside after the rain, hopping from puddle to puddle (“bebe wants to splash in the puddle”), touching the leaves in the bushes, noticing out loud they are all wet and looking for snails and slugs.
Being out in the rain is a different story. When we returned to Europe, little gosling found the Brussels rain less than enchanting. He would get agitated and fussy whenever we went out when it rained, and shouted “rain, go away!” in a distressed voice. He disliked having the rain cover on top of the pram and would do all to pull it down. When walking, he just didn’t want to be outside. To be fair, he has similar reactions to wind or sun, when the latter gets into his eyes. And, generally, people coming to Belgium from further away always complain about the rain and grey, low sky.
I am intent on us having an active, outdoorsy life, therefore I started to look for ways to have him embrace the weather. If not enjoy the rain, at least not let himself be discouraged from doing what he wants because of it.
First thing I did was to enable him to do what he (and I suspect all small kids, including myself, according to what must be what my parents most vividly recall from my early childhood) loves most: splash into every puddle he can find. What joy and pleasure this simple act can give small kids! We quickly got him a sturdy pair of long rubber boots and agreed with him that he could splash into whatever puddle he liked, as long as he was wearing his boots. He happily acquiesced and now he knows: whenever he is wearing his sandals after rain, he stops next to the puddle saying: “this is a boot puddle”, so no stepping, no splashing. Next, we made sure to have rain jackets for all kinds of temperatures; some with whales, some with numbers (his favourite), so he is all set. He loves umbrellas, but it’s just so very impractical to have one around him; it does not serve him and, well, it’s just a hazard for everyone else in his hands, at this stage :))).
With all the reading and singing we have been doing, I looked for relatable, positive, uplifting songs and picture books on the topic of rain. I was happy to find Tim Hopgood’s illustrated “Singing in the rain” and “Cyril, the lonely cloud”. I take them out with excitement every time it rains! And I’ve made a habit of singing “Singing in the rain” and B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. I think this is working… although it has no effect on daddy’s grumpy and reluctant mood when it rains :P.
Little gosling immediately got hooked on the song “Singing in the rain” and wanted me to sing it again and again and again. As customary, he was not so keen on Doris Day’s version (that comes in a CD attached to the book), but wanted mommy’s version. I’m struggling both through the higher and the low notes, but I make up for it with smiles, silliness and with the absolute enjoyment I take in singing it. The illustrations are lovely, in strong, bright colours and there are music notes and smiles everywhere; they reflect superbly the joy imparted by the lyrics. Little gosling liked the children running and playing under the rain, splashing happily in the puddles, with big smiles on their faces. My favourites are the children floating down with the open umbrellas, their smiles reflected in the puddles and the children enjoying the small, simple things around them in the rain: a flower, a butterfly fluttering, the grass underneath their bare feet.
Little gosling seems equally attached to “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. He recites the first verse and asks for it when he feels raindrops on his face and little hands. He’s irresistibly cute raising his hands up and fidgeting his fingers saying “these are raindrops!”
“Cyril, the lonely cloud” just wants to look down on the world and see a happy smile, feel welcome, but people receive him with distrust and displeasure, as a fun spoiler. Therefore, he pours his sadness over them and travels further in search of a friendly face. In the process, he grows bigger and more frustrated, until…. He reaches what looks like hot, dry Africa, where the animals are so happy to welcome him. Cyril is sweetly drawn, with a kiddy face, very likeable and relatable and helps build understanding and empathy and a positive perception of clouds and rain.
Lately, in the good night message to everyone, I made a point of starting with the sun and whatever weather features we’ve had during the day. For example, these days I said, “good night clouds! Thank you for coming today and making the heat more bearable, thank you for bringing chill”; “good night, rain! Thank you for visiting us today, for renewing and refreshing the air! You are so important for plants and animals to grow healthy and happy! Good night!” I use these last moments of the day, when little gosling’s focus is on my whispers to reassure him that all these phenomena that displease him have their place and meaning and are good for us.