Storytelling Day: The True Story of Rock A Bye Baby

birdsinnest Photo by Lin Pernille  Photography

We will be back on track with What We’re Reading Wednesday next week, but for today I wanted to share this charming story from the Simple Kids storyteller – Robin.  I’ve read her telling of Rock A Bye Baby several times now, and I still get a little choked up at the end.  As always, thank you, Robin, for inspiring us to weave our own tales for the little ones in our lives:

Rock a bye baby on the treetop
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all!

This one of of the first nursery rhymes I adapted for my girls. I remember these lyrics upsetting me as a child, and when my own child learned the words and felt bothered by them, I crafted a positive vision for her from the ominous phrases. Now both girls enjoy the song’s calming tune without feeling disturbed by its imagery. As the winter swirls around us where we live and the winds start blowing, this song always comes back to mind, bringing with it (in our version) uplifting images of the promise of spring.

The little girl asked her mama, “Mama, how do birds learn to fly?”

And the mama answered the little girl, “Well, they learn to fly just like you learned to walk. They start slowly and stumble. They go short ways and return. One day, they realize they can go great distances. For you, that was walking. For birds, that’s called flying.”

“But how?” asked the girl. “Kids don’t have to be in the air to walk. What if the birds fall down?”

The mama smiled, hugged her girl close, and began humming a comforting tune. “Do you know the song we sing at bedtime? It’s a song about learning to fly.”

The mama pulled her daughter on to her lap to explain how baby birds learn to fly, and this is what she told her:

When a mommy bird and daddy bird build their nest, they build it high in the top of a tree. They build it high so that their eggs will be safe, and so that their baby birds will be born right into the sky. The sky, you know, is a bird’s real home. A nest is just his bed but the sky is where he soars.

When baby birds are little, they don’t leave their nest. Their mommy and daddy come and go, bringing them food and tastes of the bigger world. They watch their parents soar. They wait. They grow, and they watch, and they wait.

When the babies are strong enough to leave the nest, their bodies know what to do. They know how to fly just like you know how to walk. Your body knew inside you what to do — you just needed to take those first steps. We watched you hold onto tables, lean forwards, teeter. We were there to catch you and we sat right there to help you let go, to try on your own. We sat on the floor; we held out our hands.

Mama birds can’t sit on the floor; they can’t hold out their hands. So they talk to the winds and they work with the trees. The winds blow harder, lifting the baby birds just slightly out of their nests, just enough so they can feel the air move around them. The trees shake, so the baby birds can feel their balance and the strength of their wings. And one day, when the mommy bird and daddy bird know that the babies are ready, they whisper to their tree. They say in hushed chirps and cheeps: “Now! It’s time!”

And all the trees holding nests with baby birds feel the signal chirping at them from the sky. They speak to each other, sending tremors from root to root to root, far underground where you and I will never feel it, in the secret language of nature: of dirt and water and life. They know when baby birds must learn to fly.

All at once, on the very same minute of the very same morning of the most sunshiny day of spring, the mommy and daddy birds give their chirping signal and the trees talk through their barks and all at once:

DROP!

Every tree that is honored with a bird nest in its crown does the same secret tree dance. The branches twist and shout and giggle and shake and down drop the bird nests, tipping those babies out. The babies find themselves in the air, with nothing beneath them, feeling for the first time what it’s like to be hugged by the sky. And then the shaking stops, and two branches lower, the trees catch those nests, and those nests catch those baby birds.

But the baby birds will never again be quite the same, because now they’ve taken their very first flights. And they like what they’ve felt, so every day they fly further and further until the day when they soar just like their mommies and daddies.

“Have you seen the trees dancing, Mama?” asked the girl as she looked up with wonder.

“I think I might have,” said the mama with a twinkle in her eye. “It happens so fast but if you hear all the mommy and daddy birds chirping at the same time on a sunshiny spring day, look up and watch the tree tops. You might see the baby birds take their first flights.”

“I hope I see it, Mama!” said the girl. “I love the spring.”

And the mama, thinking of sunshiny warm days and babies who grow up, smiled, kissed the girl on the top of her head, and answered simply, “Me, too.”

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

How to Create Flexible Family Routines

coloring Photo by Vince Alongi

Our family has enjoyed over two weeks of living life out of our normal routines.  We have spent entire days in our pajamas, we’ve stayed up late many nights and slept in quite a few mornings.  The housework has been neglected while games have been played.  It has been a delightful break from the ordinary.

As this first week of the new year begins, however, I am quite ready to get back into our normal rhythms and routines of life!

Some families find that lots of structure and a consistent schedule works wonderfully while other families like to keep things spontaneous.  As babies grow into toddlerhood and as toddlers become preschoolers, a sense of routine allows them to have a confidence that comes from knowing what comes next.  I will never be a person who can run my home by the clock, but I do know that we have very predictable routines that provide for stability and order while making way for lots of flexibility.

This topic came up recently in a parenting discussion forum, and one mother from Texas shared her ideas on some routines she wrote up for her family.  She wrote, “We do not follow this religiously, but it’s something I have on hand if I am noticing too much chaos/disorder, out of whack kiddos, shrieking/whining/boredom – then I tighten things up again. We also have “off” days where I pretty much do nothing but let them run around like wild creatures.”

With her permission, I am sharing her ideas on flexible routines:

Each morning, allow some time for waking up, a little snack or drink, perhaps a morning TV program – whatever works best for your family.

8:00 AM
Mommy Officially Awake
Breakfast
Get Dressed
Brush Teeth
Brush Hair

9:00
Kitchen/Dining clean up
Small Motor Activity at table (see ideas below)

10:00
Snack
Outside – Nature/Large Motor Activity OR Foray (see ideas below)

12:00 PM
Lunch
Clean Up Lunch

12:30
Toddler Nap
Reading/Workbook
Computer game

1:30
Free Play – Indoor Small/Large Motor/Sensory (see ideas below)

3:00
Snack
Art/ Music OR Foray

4:00
Outside – Nature/Large Motor/Sensory (see ideas below)

5:00
Bath

5:30
Dinner Prep & TV Show

6:00
Dinner
Free Play

7:00
Clean Living Area
Clean Bedrooms
Bedtime Routine

7:30
Bedtime

Forays
Library
Playgroup
Church
Groceries
Park
Daddy Outing
Splash Pad
Children’s Museum

The Arts
Puppets
Arts/Crafts
Musical Instruments
Classical Music
Folk Songs
Hymns

Reading
Poetry
Books
Foreign Language
Bible
Nursery Rhymes

Indoor -Small Motor
Color
Paint
Paste
Cut/tear paper
Clay
Building blocks
Puzzles
Stringing beads
Lacing Cards
Pouring
Bubbles

Indoor – Large Motor
Dance
Chase
Hide and seek
Tag

Indoor – Sensory
Playdough
Shaving cream

Outdoor – Nature
Woods adventure
I Spy
Collection for nature box
Journal
Scavenger Hunt

Outdoor – Large Motor
Run
Walk dog
Games
Sports
Trampoline

Outdoor – Sensory
Sand
Water

Of course, the general structure of the daily routine and the activities are just suggestions. Each family will know what works best for them.  As this very wise mama shared, some days we may just need some ideas on how to answer the question, “Now what?”  (I want to say thank you again to this generous mama for sharing her ideas with us!)

For more suggestions on sensory activities, check out the article 99 Sensory Activities For Any Child from Mommy Poppins.

What do routines look like for your family? Do you tend to be more structured or less structured? How do you get your family back on track after many days of being out of routine?