Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Storytelling – Even If You Think You Can’t.

She was impatient, as only a 3 year old can be. Her father was working late, and I was doing the dishes. But she wanted her story. NOW. And she had been patient all evening. It had been a nightly routine to read to her since before she could talk. With soapy hands, I couldn’t hold the book and she refused to hold the book herself. I knew that if I didn’t do something soon, we’d soon have a full blown temper tantrum on our hands, and she’d be too wound up to sleep.

Thinking quickly, I asked if it would be alright if I told her a story. “It will be fun; you can make up whatever pictures you want to go with the story.” The suspicious look on her face told me that she didn’t altogether trust this new idea. Finally she nodded, and then looked at me expectantly.

Oh dear, what had I gotten myself into? I was not a story teller. I was not creative. I could not improvise a story on the spur of the moment. So finally I decided to tell a story I knew inside and out, Cinderella. So did she, having watched the movie over and over, in the way that preschoolers do.

I started out tentatively, and any place where my story differed from the movie, she corrected me. And by the time that we were at the Ball, we were both fully into the story. Incensed at the behavior of the wicked stepsisters, she declared that they should not be allowed to be in the story at all.

Typically of a three-year-old, my daughter didn’t want to hear about Cinderella dancing with the Prince. “It’s boring.” But she was very interested in the mice, the pumpkin and the magic. She knew the magic turned them into a coach and horses but still didn’t understand why they couldn’t stay that way.

And when Cinderella finally made her way down the stairs in her ragged clothes to meet the handsome prince, she cheered, knowing that a happy ending was just around the corner.

Gayle McCain, Author

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