By Joel Centano
A parental confession: My two daughters (ages 7 and 10), as young kids are wont to do, tune me and my “dad talks” out as a matter of principle. If you promise not to tell them, though, I’ll let you in on a secret: I haven’t given up on teaching essential life lessons. I’ve simply become more creative in how I instill them – swapping out my quickly dismissed discussions (“we get it, Dad!”), for instance, with mediums they’re more likely to tune into and role models they’re most likely to follow.
Enter Coin Trick with its illuminating window into Native American culture, as well its superbly sympathetic heroine, Cassidy. The following lessons learned along her journey promise to be a boon for any child’s development.
Stand Up to Bullies: What better way to begin a podcast for children than with a lesson about being brave and lending your voice to the voiceless? I watched my daughters’ eyes widen when, early in Episode 1, Cassidy stands up for her friend Jonathan after a schoolyard bully rips off his glasses and taunts him with Native American slurs. Later, in Episode 5, Cassidy uses her growing power to empower others when she confronts Smitey, a second bully who preys on those he perceives as weak. It is, I hope, exactly how my daughters would act in similar situations.
Use Your Ingenuity: Yes, iPhones and iPads have their place, but they wear out their welcome when kids can no longer rely on their own devices to entertain themselves, problem solve, or even check the weather (I knew it was time to course correct when my oldest daughter opened her weather app to gauge current conditions rather than look outside). Whenever Cassidy is challenged or imperiled, it is her quick thinking, creativity, and ingenuity – using her bike pump in Episode 4 to inflate General Frog and float to safety, for example – that saves her.
Just Do You: Sidestepping societal pressures, social media’s influence, incessant advertising, even parental expectations – and simply being yourself can be Herculean tasks for anyone, let alone developing children. Keep doing you, Cassidy, and keep wearing that Buffalo Bills jersey as long as you like. You were right on to tell Koko in Episode 2 that “girls can like football, too, and they don’t have to wear dresses and do their hair all fancy.”
Trust Yourself: Successfully navigating societal mazes so often comes down to how well we can evade untoward advice and negative voices – including our own self-doubt. Although Cassidy, despite her better judgement, follows Koko into a dangerous forest in Episode 3, she eventually finds her true north when she listens to her inner voice and trusts her intuition. “No, no. I’m not listening to you,” Cassidy tells all the negative voices she hears while making her way through a pitch-black cave toward the Giant in Episode 5. “I can do this.” she says. “I can do this!” Her words, I hope, will forever resound in my daughters’ ears.
Show Compassion: Standing up to bullies requires strength but, as Cassidy also demonstrates, so does showing compassion. “I know that sometimes people act mean because other people have been mean to them,” Cassidy tells the Giant in Episode 5. It’s Cassidy’s insight and understanding, as much as her bravery, that leads to peace and helps her accomplish the colossal undertaking of saving a village from destruction and restoring order to the universe.
Embrace the Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell rode out the Great Depression in a cabin, poring through ancient myths while discovering a recurrent, cross-cultural pattern in each he’d later call “The Hero’s Journey.” I spent much of my early adulthood reading Campbell’s works, and years later, admittedly, put my girls to sleep while attempting to relay their themes. I’m OK with that now, though, thanks to Coin Trick. While teaching and inspiring my daughters to learn more about Native American culture, it’s given them a worthy and approachable role model in Cassidy, a true hero who accepts and rises to life’s challenges, grows from her journey, and ultimately, uses that journey to benefit others.
Joel Centano is a writer, editor, photographer, avid Coin Trick listener, and Hero's Journey devotee, but above all, a dad.
Be Bold image: rawpixel
Superhero image: jpmsonline