Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm Not Making This Up

Jarrah has become a story dictator. She commands me to spin yarns before her nap and before bedtime, but also in the car, where you can often find us. The upshot is that I have to tell five or six stories a day, and they have to be original. She wants all new and improved versions every time. She also assigns topics. Mysteriously, these topics are often colors, as in "Tell me blue story." I am a wreck from the pressure. Here's a typical session:

Jarrah: Tell me pink story.

Sam: All right...once upon a time there were two girls named Jarrah and Joy who were playing at the park. Suddenly, they saw a pink marshmallow bunny sitting on top of the slide! [at this point there's a stalling section filled with salutations and small talk] They played and played, going down the slide, swinging on the swings, and having all kinds of fun. When Jarrah and Joy hugged the pink marshmallow bunny, he was VERY squishy. SQUISH! SQUISH! SQUISH! [my discerning listener doesn't even crack a smile here: "Squishiness! That tired old shtick."] Finally, they were so tired, and made the pink marshmallow bunny promise to come back and play with them again soon. [long interlude of goodbyes and thank yous and more squishing] The end!

Jarrah: Tell me blue story.

Sam: Okay, once upon a time there were two girls named Jarrah and Joy. They were playing in the park when suddenly they saw a blue elephant flying in the sky! They waved to him and he flew down to say hello. [see above re: salutations and small talk] Then the blue elephant asked Jarrah and Joy if they'd like to take a ride on his back. They said yes, and up they went in the sky! WHEEE! They flew around and around the town, through puffy white clouds and over green trees and fields of flowers, and through flocks of beautiful birds. Jarrah and Joy had so much fun. But finally they missed their mommies and daddies and asked the blue elephant to bring them home. [long interlude of goodbyes and thank yous] The end!

Jarrah: Tell me yellow story.

Sam: I need to take a rest. Why don't you tell me a story?

Jarrah: NO! You do it!

So, you see I get no wide-eyed appreciation, no "Mommy, you tell the BEST stories" or "Mommy, you are the prettiest, smartest Mommy EVER." It's more of a job, one with ever-increasing demands and no perks. Even scarier are the times I have no idea what she's asking:

Jarrah: Tell me story. Tell me andry story.

Sam: Andry? What's andry?

Jarrah: No! Andry!

Sam: I'm sorry, I don't know what andry is.

Jarrah: NO! Don't say sorry to me! Tell me andry story!

These requests end in tears with me wringing my hands (figuratively, since I'm often driving) and bathed in flop sweat because I can't produce.

I had really looked forward to the supple imagination of childhood, and the adoring gratitude for my feats of narrative finesse. But I get no love. I just get a stern taskmaster who's always looking ahead to what's newer, bigger, better, and wants more, more, MORE. I suppose I could resort to what my dad did when we were little. He invented a single character (his name was Moishe Pipik, but I digress) and everything revolved around him. Though he often fell asleep in the middle of his own stories, they were action-packed and full of detail. Later, he admitted they were all adapted from movies he'd seen recently, or James Bond, or both. My siblings and I were none the wiser. Hmmmm. Maybe it's true that great writing comes from knowing who to copy.

10 comments:

Jennifer said...

Ha! That is too funny!! You have a demanding one girl audience on your hands! Maybe you should start writing some childrens books and make a career out of it! :)
Jennifer

Steph said...

Good stuff! I can not stop chuckling at the notion of Jarrah's sweet self being your "stern taskmaster"!

I know you are a singer as well as story teller, perhaps you should start singing classic Rolling Stones as I have: "You can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want; but if you try sometimes, you just might find, ya get what you need..."
xox
steph
ps: my baby dictionary guesses "andry" to be "another"?

Anonymous said...

Andrew story? Henry story? Angry story??

You could try: "Okay, I'll tell a story, but you need to help." Then have her fill in some words whenever & see where the story goes.

Best, Gail

Jen said...

Great post, Sam. And parts of it sound soooo familiar! Sage is always asking for stories, too--usually about animals. Her faves are the ones about a lobster looking for snacks and a cat looking for ladybugs. Last night I told her one about a rabbit that didn't know her name and had to walk all around the forest asking everyone if they knew it.

I'm going to steal your playing in the park plotlines--they're great!

But the most familiar part is when Sage asks for a story about something that I cannot for the life of me figure out. One day, I FINALLY realized it was "Curious George," but it took me several agonizing minutes of trying every conceiveable re-pronunciation of what she was saying, punctuated by her crying in frustration. I was SO relieved when I figured it out, as I usually don't!

Believe me, Jarrah DOES appreciate your stories. She just doesn't deign (sp?) to tell you so.

xo
Miss J

Sam said...

Thanks for the translation skills, girls. ;)

As it happens, I did figure out that "andry" thing later.

Funny story. Jarrah received a book from my friend Jen S. called "Henry Hikes to Fitchburg" which is all about Thoreau and his friends (it's very cute, really.) Anyway, Jarrah wanted me to read it to her constantly, but then whenever it was time to go to bed, she'd command me to remove the book from her room: "No Henry in here. Take to office." She said, "Henry scares me. Take away." Foreshadowing her experience with 19th century American lit?

So, she was really saying "Henry," but I heard "Andry." (You called it, Martha!) I was thrown because I'm not sure how I was supposed to "tell" Henry in the car. ;)

Jen said...

Glad you did figure Andry out. I'd looooove to know why ole Henry is scary! (I have my own ideas about that!)

So I just wanted to add that I love the new site design. It's so perfect!

Miss J

Sam said...

Yes, Miss J, I had some ideas, too. ;)

And a shout out to Gail--you were the one who called "Henry," not Martha this time. :)

Cheri said...

Laura asks for me to tell her such stories to this day -- and I can only blame Mary for setting a standard I'll never be able to meet. That woman tells the best spontaneous and original stories on the planet Earth.

Anonymous said...

I still think the best piece of parenting advice given to me was "Expect nothing."

I forget about it a lot, but man, do I need to remind myslef!

OXOX,

Mary

Anonymous said...

Hi Again,

Cheri, you are too sweet!

It is all about keeping the peace in kindergarten!

OXOX,

Mary