"At middle age the soul should be opening up like a rose, not closing up like a cabbage."
-John Andrew Holmes

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Road Stories


One of the really fabulous things that happened when A's mom was visiting us this past weekend was storytelling. I have mentioned before that we have a little tradition of using long drives and boring times in the car when the kids are wiggly and nobody can be good anymore for storytelling. I am a pretty verbal person so the notion of telling tales together for fun is pretty appealling. There's also something in my that connects the concept to my Native American ancestry. I can trace my relations back to a genuine chief's daughter and I imagine hopefully that my predilection for the spoken word has some connection to old times around tribal fires and huddled evenings amongst the furs in the wigwam.

Anyhow, it sure does the trick for my small boys in the car. They stop wiggling and they listen astoundingly. There is far less fighting and far more giggling (if its that sort of story) and as a bonus, they've learned a lot about moral truths, the exploits of their relatives and the beauty of the spoken word. They know how to build suspense, how a good story begins and ends and on the sly I sometimes catch them spinning little story worlds of their own behind the bookcase, in amongst a labyrinth of Lego or snuggled down in a pile of pillows, giggling away on their bunk beds. Story is contagious and powerful and clearly special.

Ru is in the habit of asking for stories whenever the drive we're taking appears longish and even though the answer isn't reliably "yes" he  tries to get the story mill grinding. He asked in front of A's mother and I hastily explained the idea while planning on shutting him down for sake of adult conversation and instead she beamed and said, "Oh! What a good idea! Lets have some stories!" She was not only a good sport, she was a fabulous contributor. I told her that the core plan was the relate real life stories, with an emphasis on our own familial past (our childhoods, our parents, our grandparents, ancient family lore...etc.) and she dove right in with all kinds of magical tales about her children having tension filled adventures, her brother's wild exploits in nature and the time a turtle tracked paint all over her childhood basement. Wonderful stories that I hope I can remember well enough to repeat and repeat so that they become a part of our canon.

Have you sat and told the stories of your own adventures or the high times of your distant relations? Its a great thing to relive all the incidents, but even better to tell it to a small eye sparkler who will stop breathing for the tense bits and giggle-shriek over the embedded jokes.

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