Archives for September 2009

Storytelling Day: The True Story of Hey, Diddle Diddle

overthemoonphoto by James Jordan

It’s Storytelling Day again here at Simple Kids.  Today, we welcome back Robin who has crafted a new, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable story to share with your family and to inspire your own storytelling muse.

Hey, diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed
To see such sport
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Pssst: have you ever seen a cow jump? No? Me, neither. Here’s what really happened.

Bill and Jill Diddle had a little farm where they raised cows and chickens on soft, rolling hills: the cows grazed on the north side of the creek that ran through the farm, and the chickens clucked on the south side. They also had a cat and a dog and four kids. The three girls, Sara, Cara and Dara, were always just called “the Daughters Diddle” because they were so close in age and looked so much alike. The Daughters Diddle loved caring for all the animals. There was also one boy. He was much younger than his sisters, who thought he was too small to help with the animals and always sent him off to go play. Almost nobody called him by his real name. His mommy called him “my little dumpling.” Everyone else called him “the little Diddle” or simply, “Diddle Diddle.” Only his daddy, who had always wanted a son, ever used his proper name.

Diddle Diddle always tried to help. He wanted to milk the cows but he accidentally knocked over the pail. He tried to collect the morning eggs from the hens but he dropped two eggs and they cracked. The Daughters Diddle told him what they always told him. “Oh, Diddle Diddle, you’re still too little for all this work. Why don’t you go play?”

They always told him to go play. He didn’t mind too much, though, because he had a secret: Diddle Diddle was going to be a famous musician when he grew up. Whenever his sisters told him to go play, he practiced his music. He always took his guitar with him. Sometimes he took a cow bell. Sometimes he’d take his favorite drum, too. It wasn’t a real drum. It was his mommy’s big wooden salad bowl, but when he propped it against a rock and used the serving spoons as drumsticks it made fantastic boom-boom-buh-boom noises.

Diddle Diddle would go where nobody would see or hear him: down in the valley of the creek bed between Cow Hill and Chicken Hill.  There, the farmhouse and the hen house and the dairy barn all seemed worlds away. There, he could play his music and sing as loudly as he wanted and dream about the day that nobody would tell him he was too little anymore. He drummed and strummed and clanged and sang and imagined himself on stage. His dog and cat always kept him company while he practiced; they were very loyal and they always meowed and woofed appreciatively.

Over time, a peculiar thing happened. Whenever Diddle Diddle came to the flat rock by the creek more animals began to gather to hear his music. The dog and the cat were always there, but a few chickens would cluck down to the bottom of their hill, too. One day, a cow came. The day after that, nine cows and 22 chickens came to hear Diddle Diddle’s music. And they began to dance! At first the chickens two-stepped on their hill and the cows linked tails and swayed on their hill, but the dog and the cat had been listening to Diddle Diddle’s music for weeks and they wanted to party. They ran across the summer-shallow creek waters, encouraging and nudging and gently yipping at tails and tail-feathers until slowly, shyly, all the animals began to dance together.

One afternoon Diddle Diddle realized that all of the farm animals were at the creek dancing to his music. He was playing and singing his heart out and the party was so fun that he didn’t realize he had played right past his dinnertime. All he knew is that he was having the best day. He knew he wasn’t too little to do anything. He knew he would grow up to be a great musician.

The sun was long set and the moon was high in the sky when his family found him. The Daughters Diddle came down from the south hill where they had been to close up the hen house for the night but couldn’t find any chickens. His daddy came down from the top of the north hill. He had gone out to the dairy barn to do the night milking and found that all the cows were missing. And his mommy came running from the farm house where she had been looking for him. It was Diddle Diddle’s bedtime and she was worried!

As all the Diddles met in the moonlight they saw the most spectacular thing. The chickens were clucking and jumping through the grass. The cows were splashing across the creek and swinging the sprightlier hens over the water with their tails. All the animals were dancing together and at the center of it all was the baby of their family, Little Diddle, playing and looking happier than they’d ever seen.

They stood quietly and marveled at his talents. “Look,” Cara murmured. “The way it’s reflecting in the water, doesn’t it look like that cow is jumping over the moon?” Her parents and sisters laughed, and sat down in the grass to enjoy the show. They had always thought of Little Diddle as just that – little, and that night they appreciated him in a brand new way. “Diddle Diddle!” Sara said with new respect in her voice. “That’s my dumpling!” thought Jill. And Bill, the proudest daddy there ever was, said again and again, “look at my son, my John.” There they sat until the last song ended, and together the whole family, including their most amazing little boy, all tucked the animals away for the night together and got ready for bed.

Tired from so much excitement, the Diddles fell asleep quickly. Especially John — he fell asleep dreaming of what Cara had repeated to him: of cows who loved his music, jumping over the moon.

Dear reader: you’ve heard of him, right? “Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John? Went to bed with his stockings on?”  I’ll tell you more about him next month.

simplekidsRobin1Robin blogs about satisfying the curiosities of her inquisitive family at Not-Ever-Still Life with Girls.

Turnoff Week: September 20-26th

tvfreephoto by Aaron Escobar

Twice a year, the Center for Screen-Time Awareness hosts a Turnoff Week to encourage people everywhere to turn off the screens for a week.  The second Turnoff Week for 2009 launched yesterday, September 20th and will continue through Saturday, September 26th.

Is this a challenge your family will undertake?

For those accustomed to unlimited screen time, the thought of turning off for a week can be overwhelming.  Here are some resources to motivate and inspire a week without (or with reduced) screen time:

Resources for TV-Free and Screen-Free Living

Kill Your Television

Preschool Activities 101: TV-Free Ways To Keep Your Kid Busy While You Work – Part One and Part Two

Simple Mom: 20 Indoor Activities for Kids – besides TV

Unplug Your Kids blog

The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying to Raise a TV-Free Kid by Ellen Curry-Wilson

Instead of TV

Is your home screen-free?  TV-free?  Limited in screen and TV-time?  What resources have helped or inspired you?

September 18th: SK Showcase and Weekend Links

I don’t have a showcase to share this week, but I sure would love to receive your submission!  Check the SK Showcase FAQ for submission inspiration.

Just a reminder – on October 1st, Simple Kids is hosting a book talk to discuss Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry. I am working out some details on the logistics of our book talk.  It would really help to have an estimate of how many from the community will be participating.

If you are planning to take part in the book talk, could you take a moment to leave a comment and let me know?  I so appreciate your help!

And now, your weekend reading:

Simply Practical

Small Notebook: Organizing Your Children’s Clothes Storage

Simply Delicious

beauty that moves: kid friendly pad thai

Inspired Projects

Kids Craft Weekly: Bears

Inspired Images

The Rinrins: Birthday uncake

Inspired Words

Catskill Cottage Seed: Cultivating the Imaginal in Kids

(don’t forget to comment and let me know if you are planning to be a part of the Free Range Kids book talk!)