Stitch often gets lazy about holding his arms out. He's better about it in lessons, but when he's on his own, it's a lost cause.
Last night I pulled him off the ice for a moment. I held his arms out. "Stitch, imagine for a moment that there is a string, tied to your wrists," I tied an imaginary string. "And on that string are six tiny tightrope walkers." I motioned where the tightrope walkers would be. "You have to keep your string taught, so the tightrope walkers don't fall down."
Stitch found this hilarious. "What if they fall? Do they die?"
"They jump right back up, but try to keep them up there. So try the dance step again, and remember your tiny tightrope walkers."
So he went out, holding his imaginary string taught, and he did the dance step a few times. Then he slid belly first onto the ice, smooshing his tightrope walkers. Then he ate them. Then he blew them off their string. Then he put them into a cone. We had a lot of fun with our hapless tiny tightrope walkers. But every time his arms would drop, all I had to do was hold my fingers where the tightrope walkers would be, and his arms would go up.
I brought him off the ice again. "Here's another thing. When you jump or spin, you have to hold your tightrope walkers tight so they don't fly off. So don't forget to protect them."
"But that would be funny if they flew off!"
"This is true."
Again, it worked.
I think we went through about eighty tiny tightrope walkers before the night was out, but he had held his arms out and there had been no fighting or stomping or arguing. Just laughing.
And now when I'm in the stands, I don't have to do the bird. I can do a subtle hand motion, which will make him laugh again and get my point across.