Saturday, January 10, 2009


Photo by David

We have always read books before bed and we still do, but we have just starting incorporating storytelling into our routine as well.  Some of my fondest memories with my dad growing up were of bedtime when my older sister and I would beg our father to make up a story for us.  It would always be "Jo-rynne" and "Co-leen" (my sister's and my names mixed up together) who would be the heroines.  They were fantastical heroic tales and adventures just as any good story should be...  He had his own unique phrasings and things that he would use in the telling of all of his stories.  My dad had a few cues that Jolene and I had learned to come in on in the story each night.   At the end of each story my dad would begin the final sentence and then let us finish it. 

During the last few weeks, Elliott has soaked up this idea of audible storytelling and he is stuck.  Every nap time and bed time he begs me, just like I once begged my father, to tell him a story.  These stories are always off the cuff style and they sort of make themselves up as we go along and meander into mischief or silliness or some such nonsense.  Surprisingly, I find that I am in a rhythm--a rhythm that seems to have been unwittingly passed down to me.  Without even thinking, I've picked up my dad's signatures and phrasing.  I've taken up that last sentence of the story, just like him.  After crafting out an amazing, silly adventure with Caiden and Elliott as the subjects, I always wrap up with their mom or dad asking them some sort of question about what they have been doing, or where did all of these animals come from, etc. and then I say, "...and they just looked at each other..." and then Elliott is supposed to say,  "...and smiled." 

The funny thing is that it all came about so naturally.  I didn't even notice I was doing it until it came out.  All of a sudden I was ending my stories with "they looked at each other--and they smiiiiiiled."  And all of these memories started flooding my mind.  And my heart swelled and I felt like I was that little girl again, intently listening to Daddy who held all of the magic in his mind and made me the hero of his story.  And when I realize that this is what I am passing on to my boy...  well--words cannot even describe.

It kind of makes me stop and think.  Because the things I do now with my children and the time that I invest in them is not in vain.  It is not a chore or something to just get done so they will finally be quiet and go to sleep.  They will remember it.   It does impact them--for better or for worse.  So when Elliott asks me to tell him a story and I am tired or I am cranky because he has already asked for and ransomed five hundred jillion other things before getting into bed, I realize that telling him a story means so much more than the 'right now moment' and it makes me want to say, "yes" more often than not.  Because this is not something that just anyone can do.  This is a gift that only a parent can give.


elisabeth said...

I love that. My dad used to tell Abby and I "Spot and Puffy" stories on Saturday mornings. We'd always be trying to figure out if we were Spot or Puffy.
He told me much later that the stories were loosely based on his own adventures as a child. I can't wait to do things like that with my own'll definitely make it in to some of the stories :)

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The Montgomerys said...

I can totally see your dad telling you stories like that! Very, very cute...Elliott is lucky to have such a creative mom!! Love you.