It was a hard day, in a hard week, in a hard nine months or more.
After dinner, while heating water for tea, I walked into my granddaughter’s bedroom. We’ve reserved one of our two spare bedrooms for her, mainly because when she was smaller and stayed with us, she’d take afternoon naps. It still has her bed, a lot of her toys, plus the walls are decorated with her drawings and paintings.
She’s four-and-a-half, and as I was wandering around, I remembered something about her I’ll tell you about in a bit.
My grandson is almost eleven. Ever since he was about five or six, we have played “the game.” It started out in a really primitive form. He made up some situation and what his character was going to do to my character, but being an adult, I’d always find a way to top him.
As he got older, the stories became more sophisticated. For about two-and-a-half years, I turned some of those role playing games into an ongoing story for him published on this blog. I adapted the very first story I wrote for him, and it became one of my early published short stories in the Magical Reality fantasy anthology from Pixie Forest Publishing.
Eventually, he lost interest in having me write his periodic stories on my blog. We started writing a novel together instead. Basically, he told me the plot points of each chapter, and then I’d write it, “submitting” it to him for approval.
But it’s hard for him to sustain interest in such a project, so it also stalled.
However the game goes on and on. He’ll spend time when we aren’t together thinking of different things to add to our ongoing game. He creates a single character for himself, I create one for me, but then I have to run all of the other characters and much of the time, think of the environment.
It’s pretty much the thing he wants to do with me whenever we’re together (unless he wants to have a snowball fight like last Tuesday evening).
He’s a storyteller in the making. He may not become fully realized in his life as a writer, or if he does, it may not be for many years. But it’s our common activity, and he’s very encouraging of my authoring stories and being published.
A few weeks back, when my granddaughter was over, she took me into her room, turned on an electric Chinese lantern, and then turned off the rest of the lights. Then she started a story. I think it was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She got to a point in the story and then let me have a turn. I continued the story, sticking to the traditional fairy tale, then she’d stop me and take over for a bit.
We took turns back and forth until the story was done. Then she told me to pick one. I chose Little Red Riding Hood before I remembered that the wolf eats Grandma and the Woodsman cuts open the wolf to free her.
I managed to change that. Grandma just disappeared, but my granddaughter later said she was hiding. Turns out the wolf liked to play dress up. Little Red ran home and got a costume so she could play dress up with the wolf, too. Then everyone, including Grandma, ate the food in Red’s picnic basket for dinner. Happy ending.
After that, we had a mashup story involving two hand puppets my wife and I have had since our own kids were little; Alley the Gator and Bunny Rabbit. Other animals were involved, most notably Winnie the Pooh.
My grandchildren are storytellers.
I think my granddaughter got into that particular mode because she always sees me playing the game with her brother. As my grandson and I play it, the game is too advanced for someone her age, so she created one of her own. She also doesn’t have a particular awareness of me being a published author, but she does know I tell stories.
I’d like to think that because I’m a storyteller, my grandchildren are becoming storytellers, too, at least within the family.
I suppose the point of me writing this missive is to point out how we can influence others around us, especially the children we love and who love us. There’s also a certain magic in telling stories to each other.
Oh sure, both my grandchildren love being read to. Even at nearly eleven, my wife will get books from his favorite juvenile series, and read them to him early in the morning when his sister is asleep, or sometimes late at night after she’s gone to bed.
My granddaughter loves being read to pretty much anytime, unless she’s doing arts and crafts, making Olaf the snowman outside, building a castle for pipe cleaner spiders with Duplos, or constructing 3D geometric shapes with a special magnet set.
She’s also a budding engineer.
While I’ve experienced some success as a writer, I still realize that it’s not a career. As much as I’d love to do nothing with my time but write, I doubt it ever will be my only income.
But besides having my name in a book, and besides people saying they like some of my stories, the satisfaction I get from it is that I encourage my grandchildren to express their thoughts and feelings in the tales they tell.
Someday, I’ll be gone (hopefully not for a long time), but I hope that my story will always be told by them. I hope it will stay with him in their hearts.