Why kids help stories

A good story is like a nice collection of chocolates: it’s hard to have too many.

In my 20’s, before I had children, I hung out with my friends’ kids. Kids and stories are made for each other.

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At age 4, Rene already loved a good story. And, lucky for me, she thought my stories were good.

Together, we crafted a story about Paintbrush the Smurf who lived in Smurfville and loved to paint. (You had to be there.) If we had much time together, we’d work our way through our stories.

But Rene enjoyed other storytellers as well. One evening I was invited to her house for dinner and I arrived before the meal was ready.

“I’ll read you some books,” I told her, “if you want.”

She spun and disappeared into her bedroom. And didn’t come out.

Well, I thought, she must not have wanted stories read after all. I waited a while and then started for the kitchen to chat with her mother.

At that moment, Rene burst from her bedroom, her arms stretched out, holding what looked like every book she owned. I’m not sure how she squeezed all those volumes between her hands.

Of course we sat down and read. Who cares about dinner when you can read about Corduroy and a runaway bunny?

Her brother was less enthralled with my stories but that was OK because he had a way of supplying me with fresh material.

One day he visited my house and planted himself before my computer. There, Ken played a dartboard game for a long time.

Then he raced out of the room and flung himself at me, energy exploding from his face. “You know that Darts? Two people can play it so I decided to play against myself. I played and played. And guess what?” He was nearly breathless. “I won!”

Their younger brother came along a little later. By that time, I had a son who was just a year older than Curt. On my son’s birthday, he was at kindergarten and I was babysitting Curt who wanted to help make the birthday cake.

So we pulled up a step-ladder so Curt could reach the counter and began putting ingredients in a bowl. I stepped away to grab the flour, turning back in time to see Curt slam two eggs against the edge of the bowl and drop the glob -shells included – on top of the butter and sugar.

“Do you do that at home?” I asked him.

His eyes wide, he looked up at me. “No. My mother won’t let me.”

A good story makes the day a little sweeter

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