Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The window of an Annapolis bookshop, c. 2008.

Storytelling seems to be part of our everyday circumstance, just as natural and ever-present as spaghetti and snuggles. We create stories about the leftover scraps of paper from long-discarded signs on utility poles. We tell stories about the birdies flying overhead. We have, as regular cast members in our lives, such varied characters as God, Carler, nursery rhyme characters and anteaters with magical powers.

As you know, a good story can take on a life of its own. Our anteater myth has developed into a family talisman. If we were Scottish we'd have an anteater on our crest. Instead, courtesy of Freecycle, I recently picked up this little guy to stand guard from the doorbell chime box high up on the wall in our foyer:

Still life with front-door sentry.

Our home is secured, not by Brinks and not by ADT, but by our new anteater figurine that will protect us from harm.

Parenthood is wiping bottoms and kissing boo-boos but it's also about crafting a cult of imagination. We welcome invisible siblings into our laps and we allow that insect-snackers also eat germs and nightmares and scare away the bad guys. We answer 'why's with fact and when fact doesn't satisfy, we elaborate.

The elaborating. Here's where I never knew parenthood would be so satisfying. E asks about that time that Jack and Jill climbed up the hill. Why did Jack fall down, Mama? I'm the Mama. I needed to provide an answer. And for every nursery rhyme you might be able to recite by rote from the dim memories of your childhood, I have an unsatisfied child right before me: what made Humpty Dumpty break like that? Cows can jump over the moon, Mama? Why was Miss Muffett afraid of that spider?

Well, why did Humpty disintegrate so tragically? Have you ever wondered? One gift of motherhood is that invites you, no, instructs you to invest in wondering. And so where the quatrain leaves off I have to pick up the narrative trail.

I have to satisfy my audience, my little girls.

I tell them stories like this every day and here's where life itself becomes meta-narrative. One day I posted one here: my original True Story of Jack and Jill. And that chance decision led to an opportunity that has me so excited.

As of today, I'm the newest columnist at Simple Kids. My introduction is up there today. And on Thursday, the full text of my latter-day Jack and Jill tale will post. And monthly thereafter I'll share a new Nursery Rhyme Expounded. (Don't worry, I'll remind you when they go up.)

I'm proud to invite you to click over to Simple Kids, and take a moment to think about your favorite childhood stories. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin... Pin It