Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tell Me a Story

Our next guest post comes from my college roommate, April, a master storyteller herself.

I'm a children's librarian, which is pretty much the best job ever. So maybe when I say that I am grateful for stories you will respond in the manner of my daughter and every other eight-year-old by saying, “Well, duh.”

I am grateful for the kind of stories you can find in my library – even The Day My Butt Went Psycho, because maybe that's the book that convinces some kid that she does like reading, after all. But right now I'm thinking about the kind of stories that may never get written down and almost certainly never get published; the kind that help us understand who we are and who the people around us are; the kind we trade like jewels when we're building relationships; the kind we repeat because they help us hold on to truths and times and people we might otherwise lose track of; the kind we hear about someone we've never even met that resonate so strongly with our own experience that we feel like kindred spirits.

My children call my mother-in-law Grandma Honey. They do this because of a story she told them years ago and has repeated countless times since that goes like this:
When Uncle Andy was about four years old he noticed that Grandpa didn't usually call Grandma by her name; he usually called her “honey.” Uncle Andy decided that “honey” was much better than “mom” or “mommy,” so one day when he was upstairs in his room and needed something from Grandma, who was down in the kitchen, he came to the back stairs and called, “Honey?!”
Now, because Grandma is an excellent storyteller, the kids usually laugh uproariously at this point and then demand to know whether or not she answered Uncle Andy's call. And the response is always the same: Grandma was not about to have any four-year-old calling her “honey” so she pointedly ignored Uncle Andy until he addressed her properly.

Like lots of good stories, this one is about love and hope. It shows that a harried mother who was not willing to have her son call her “honey” can grow up to be a grandmother more than willing to have her grandchildren call her “Grandma Honey.” It demonstrates that even heroes like Uncle Andy were once four and did silly things, and so maybe there's hope for all of us.

Our stories connect us. Tell me a story. Or tell someone else a story. If you're lucky, maybe they'll tell you one right back.

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