Thursday, 03 October 2013 17:43

She Got It

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My two-year-old granddaughter, Natalie, is a piece of work. She's got the vocabulary and diction of someone much older so her comments are often stunning. Recently, we were all camping as an extended family and she was walking down the trail with two of her older cousins. They were treating her like a two-year-old until she declared, "I'm a big girl! But, I'm a little person."
You've just got to love such insights into the two-year-old mind! Because of her vocabulary, I sometimes gain glimpses into her thought process that remind me to relax and be more aware. At the same campout we were gathered around the campfire when the grandkids demanded a story.
Me: "Long, long ago, the Ojibwa say, there was once a Great Spirit named Strong Wind who..."

Natalie: (interrupting) "Is this the Bernstein Bear story?"

Me: (in my head) "Oh great, she's going to derail me before I begin."

Me: (out loud) "Maybe."

Natalie leaned forward in her chair.

Me: "...he was invisible to everyone but those who were completely honest. His sister wanted to help him find a wife so she invited girls from the village to come down to the edge of the lake and tell her what they could see."

Natalie: (interrupting) "Is this the one with the bikes in it?"

Me: (in my head) "This is why I don't tell stories at pre-schools. Don't panic - keep telling."  

Me: (out loud) "Yes."                           

Natalie: "Oh goodie, I love this story!"

Me: "There was one girl in the village who didn't think she should go to the lake to look for Strong Wind. Her sisters had done horrible things to her that had left her face scared and her hair burned and torn. No one would want her for a wife. But the girl had vowed to be sweet and honest no matter what her sisters did. She didn't go to the lake to look for Strong Wind. She went to the lake for some peace and quiet from all the teasing about how she looked."

From then on Natalie settled back in her chair and listened to every word of the story. There were no more interruptions. She was completely focused. That's when I realized her two-year-old mind was not trying to derail me. The story was not too advanced for her. She was simply tring to place my words in a context she was familiar with. She was acting like the rest of us - she was acting like a little person. We all try to place what we hear in the context of our lives. Once she had, Natalie didn't even notice when the story turned out different from what she originally anticipated! So, I was able to finish my story.

Me: "As Strong Wind's sister bathed the girl for the wedding the scars washed away and her hair grew out lush and thick. And what happened to her cruel sisters? Her new husband, Strong Wind, was so disappointed with their awful behavior that he turned them into aspen trees. And that's why the aspen's quake at the gentlest of breezes or the strongest of winds."

Natalie: (leaping from her chair) "I love that story!

Natalie: (pointing) Is that an aspen tree?

Natalie: They should have been more nice, huh?"

'Nuff said - she got it!

What stories did you love as a child? Have you shared them with your family? Try telling some stories today. They'll get it.

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 03:10
Teresa Clark

A national award-winning storyteller, historian and author, she is best known for her original works and recollections of life's experiences blended with history. Teresa has presented and performed throughout the United States. Of her, it has been said, "Charming, witty, soulful, and wise, her performances are filled with a compelling sense of wonder and an irresistable zest for life." Her story work involves performance, education, production, and advocacy. From the main stage to individual consultations in living rooms across America, she delights in the excavation and sharing of family story. Most importantly, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother to her favorite playmates and best friends.

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