Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tell Me A Story

One of the flaws of growing Old, I find, is that now that I’ve accumulated a few decades of wisdom, nobody wants any of it. I guess that’s valid; I wasn’t keen on taking advice from “my elders” either. 

To console myself, I look back on some of the things I’ve done well over my lifetime. One is teaching my children the power of story, of wrapping words around thoughts in a way others can see your meaning.

Husband and I taught our youngsters to tell stories from the time they could lisp soft words. Before they turned two, they could tell about their experiences. “Look, a duck!” is a fine story, and worth listening to. Image result for duckclipart freeWe pelted them with questions to help them sort their thoughts: what did it look/sound/feel/smell like, and then what happened, and what did you think about that, and what was the best part, and how did you feel when that happened? Asking them to tell their experiences caused them to be more attentive to details, while things they may have glossed over took on meaning. 

By the time they reached school age, they were proficient story-tellers. They clamored to tell about their day as soon as they came in the door, often tripping over their words (and those of their siblings) in their haste to tell their story. If they lagged, we’d prompt: what was the most interesting thing you noticed today, did you see any kindness, what was funny, what new thing did you learn today, did you imagine a different ending?

Their friends caught on fast; often, a playmate after school also lined up to tell their story, about that silly thing that happened on the playground, or the drawing their teacher sketched on the board; either a fish or a sock, they weren’t altogether sure. What did it look like, what color was it, why was that unusual, was that something you’d enjoy doing again?

 As a parent, I learned a lot by listening. If a daughter mentioned her new friend Jill every day for a week, then quit mentioning her, I knew to ask about Jill later on. If I noticed a story included a bully, a phone call was in order. If a child reported his teacher in tears, I’d walk the kid to school the next day, just to let the teacher know she wasn’t alone (and to apologize if my son was the tear-trigger; especially in first grade, he usually was).

As I age, I value stories more than ever. I see how helping our little ones learn to express themselves well helped them through their lives. It makes my day when a now-grown child calls and says, "Hey, Mom, want to hear what I did today?" I delight in seeing them teach my seven adorable grandchildren to tell stories, too. I’m a big believer in circles, and this one is powerful. Maybe getting Old allows me a wider vista. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this so much! And I love the stories I hear from my grandchildren, too!

    ReplyDelete

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