Be careful what you start (part 1)

The stories started sometime this summer. Z got very interested in what things were like when I was little. While we were in Vermont, in the middle of our cross-country move, with a band new baby E throwing us all for a loop, Z and I struggled and battled and in desperation, I started telling her stories. Often used to keep her patient or OK FINE I'LL SAY IT bribe her to do something I wanted, these stories were also a way to keep us connected at a time when we both were coming apart at the seams just a little. If you sit on the potty before we get in the car, I'll tell you a story. When your tantrum is over, come here, sit on my lap and I'll tell you a story. I know you're having a hard time sleeping....... Once upon a time......

A lot of the early stories were true, or at least as true as I could make them with my Swiss Cheese Brain. They starred me and my best friend growing up (we'll call her Janie) and the lessons we learned along the way. Z likes the ones that are a little bit scary BUT NOT TOO SCARY and she always watches me with rapt attention when I'm talking. (This alone is worth it, I think.)

They are all entirely made up at this point, because, well, because there have been 856,387 of them so far.

They always start the same way:

Z, sweetly: Mommmma??

CBHM, knowing what's coming: Yes, darlin'?

Z: Could you tell me a story? ActuallyhappenedandalittlebitscarybutnottooscaryandithasyouandJanieinitandithasFOURSCARY PARTS?

CBHM, sometimes with smile, sometimes with a grimace, always with: Yes, sweetheart. Once upon a time there was a little girl named --


CBHM: and I had a best friend named--


CBHM: and one day-

Z: -Did this actually happen? When will the scary part happen?

Now the telling of these stories is a part of our daily routine, so ingrained in our lives that I wonder if I'll be telling her these stories when she's a teenager. And, of course, I realize I will not be. Soon enough she will not care what actually happened when I was a little girl. She will not stare at me with rapt attention when I speak about anything.

And so I tell her stories. Even though I sometimes shudder when she starts asking, exhausted before I even begin, and sometimes I rue the day I started this.

I still tell her stories.

(But Z? Most of them didn't actually happen. I'm sorry about that.)



Astarte said...

Haha!!! When she gets older and finds out, just tell her that you've always had a REALLY rich inner life!

Michelle said...

I love that she is so interested in your stories. That's adorable.

miyoko said...

i think it's GREAT you tell her stories.

Marie Green said...

I love hearing my dad and his sisters and his mom telling about when they were kids. To this day, I love it.

My kids also like stories. It can be from my childhood or their babyhood. They really like to hear about the day they were born.

KG said...

You rock!! Don't forget the power of using stories you know as crib sheets. The number of kids I know who have never seen Star Wars, but know the plot inside and out is staggering... And how cool would that be, if Zoe thought you could pilot an X-wing Fighter!?! (Did I just reveal what a MASSIVE nerd I am?... I think I did.)

artemisia said...

I love this! She is going to so very much treasure these stories. Trust me.

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