Friday, February 26, 2010

Telling and Recording Stories

When Little Boy J was just a toddler, I remember Mentor Mommy S telling him stories about when he was a little baby. She told him stories over and over again. LBJ had his favorites that he would request to hear retold again. There was the story about the time he was at Cousin M's house, or the time Grandma L came over and rubbed his back till he fell asleep. They were told with elaborate detail. LBJ could even "chime" in as his mom told the story. He could add in what was going to happen next. It was as if she was reading him a beautiful picture book- except this story had no written text. Family stories, what a wonderful way to celebrate your lives together. Tell and retell your favorite family moments! Make them into a big beautiful tale.

Well, I wanted to do the same for my nephew. I dreamed of doing the same with him. I didn't know quite when to start. So I started at birth! Telling him and singing to him, our family stories together.

I remember when my nephew told his first story. I couldn't believe it! We were at his home, reading 100 animals. He was, maybe, 16 months. We were naming all the animals he knew. When we came upon the worm, my nephew stopped and looked at me and pointed to the worm again. He said to me, "Worm! Worm!" I looked back at him and said, "Yes, that is a worm." He repeated with a serious look (like I had not understood him), "Worm! Worm!" he exclaimed to me. I wasn't sure about the fascination, so I looked at him and said again, "Yes, that is a worm."
He quickly held out his hand as if he was giving something to me, "Titi. Titi. Worm. Worm. Me. Ehhhhhh! Ehhhhh! Worm. Worm. Titi. Me. Ehhhhh! No!"

A family story was born! It was the story about the time I took my nephew to the park and we found a worm.

It was wet, because it just had rained. We were digging in the sand together and all of a sudden, I found a worm! I picked it up and called my nephew over to see it! I held it in my hand and said, "Do you want to hold the worm?" My nephew crinkled up his eyes and nose and turned his head away and said, "Ewwwwwwwwwwww". He was nervous. He didn't want to hold it. I tried to show him how gentle it was and maybe he would like to touch it. I held my hand out close to him and he turned away in shyness. I slipped the worm back into the earth and the two of us said good bye to the worm.

This became one of our favorite family stories. We retold it many times. On family vacations, I picked out moments, like being startled by the loud cruise ship just below Nana's and Papa's apartment, seeing the pelican on our walk with Nana along the river, taking the train at Bush Gardens and Titi being scared of the Rhino, or taking the trolley and getting to ring the bell. We told and retold these stories. My nephew has his own family favorites. I decided to make him a book with 10 of our favorite stories from our vacation in Florida that we retold a million times. I drew pictures, took photographs from the trip and put them into a Moleskin sketch notebook. I did this for 3 family vacations we all took together. This way he can at anytime, read our stories!

When I go up and visit him now, sometimes he wants me to tell the "Train Story" or "The First Time He Ate a Popsicle Story"and sometimes we read his "Memory Books"! Now he can join in and tell them.

' "Don't be nervous, " Nana said!'

It is truly adorable. What is even more impressive now is his storytelling capability of ones that we have never told. He can spin a story and captivate you, using dialog and feelings throughout his story! I like to think that Titi had some influence!

Tell your family and friends stories! Tell and retell them over and over again like a beautiful piece of literature! You may even decide to capture your favorite ones in writing!

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