photo by Bindaas Madhavi
There is a facet of creative living that goes back to the beginning of the spoken word – the art of storytelling.
Those of us who take up the adventure of life with children each day know the importance of the story in day-to-day living. Story comes to us in many incarnations – family lore, local legend, cultural classics, and timeless nursery rhymes and fairy tales. For some, the gift of spinning a spectacular story comes easily; for others, a little practice is needed to oil the storytelling joints that have long since rusted over.
I’ve invited Robin to share with us each month an example of what creative storytelling looks like in her home. I think you’ll find, as I have, that her charming play with well-known stories are delightful inspiration to loose our own imaginations in pursuit of the story.
I have two daughters. The younger is one-and-a-half and is just learning to talk. The elder is three-and-a-half and sometimes needs to be encouraged to stop talking. And so we talk. We talk and we talk and the younger pipes in with exclamations and squeals and the elder pipes in with questions.
Anyone who has ever spent five minutes near an awake three-year-old knows that that age group asks a lot of questions. Why?, certainly, but also how? and but what about…? and my favorite, but WHY? The question isn’t ever the whole question. The question is the introduction to an epic Treatise on Questioning. And woe unto you if you dare speak the phrase, “I just don’t know, love.” For she will utter: think of something.
Dozens of times a day I am so instructed. And it is in this manner that I find myself testing the pliability of my imagination in directions I haven’t stretched since my own childhood. But it’s fitting, because I find myself revisiting the creative side of the first subject I ever passionately studied academically.
Before I had this beautiful family and before I worked in the field that now defines my daytime career I was one of those ubiquitous English majors. My focus was the American short story. The short story form always held my fascination because the text must be distilled to a narrative free of impurities or distractions. Every word counts. Every sentence must tease the reader’s desires for the next one. It’s something I thought about every day for years, and then none at all for several more years. And now look: I’ve become the story teller.
My elder daughter recites a nursery rhyme she learned in daycare for my applause and then she asks a question like, but Mama, why did Jack fall down the hill? And why did Jill fall down, too? “It’s just an old story,” I tell her. But think of something.
Thusly I’ve been tasked. First I concocted The True Story of Jack and Jill. Then I was begged to clarify the meaning of Hey, Diddle Diddle. We’ll be driving down the street and the big girl will ask for a chapter. Tell me about Jack and Jill in winter. And so it has become that as part of our personal family narrative we carry along a the magical oeuvre of Nursery Rhymes Expounded.
These stories lived as part of our oral history until one day Megan invited me to share them here with you. I’m humbled and excited to share what I originally crafted for an audience of two with all of Simple Kids. I’ll be here monthly. Thanks so much for having me.
Robin blogs about satisfying the curiosities of her inquisitive family at Not-Ever-Still Life with Girls.
Be sure to be here this Thursday when Robin will share the first story for this feature – The True Story of Jack and Jill.