What sweetness to think about all the wonderful stories that have been told to children since the beginning of time! Told lovingly and with focused interest, perhaps all storytelling is therapeutic. I remember the power of the pedagogical tale when I was a kindergarten teacher years ago. One of my favorites was about a child and a little undine (water fairy) who liked to hang out with her. When they were out playing the undine would ask to go inside to see the big bowl that swished the water round and round whenever the child pushed the lever after she peed. The girl for whom the story was written had started wetting her pants at home after having been continent for some time. The story settled into her, and her incontinence stopped. I am sure we could tell you many, many examples of tales such as these. The articles offered here are wonderful and inspiring. Many thanks to all the authors.
Since becoming a grandmother, I have discovered another reason to tell stories. Just for fun! And also to build a content that exists just between you and a small child whom you dearly love. For me, the tales are about Alleleutia, a young boy whose father is a fisherman, and how it eventually came to pass that Alleleutia was allowed to start accompanying his father and the crew on their outings. We got to know Cookie, Hank and Old Joe as part of the crew, as well as Father who was the Captain. Another favorite character, Marianne, was Alleleutia’s best friend who would stand on the pier and sing a good-bye song every time they set sail.
Whenever I visited Chicago, a new Alleleutia tale would spin itself as I made room for it to flow without too much pre-thought as to what was going to happen. Sometimes after a story, my grandson, four at the time, would want to “play” Alleleutia and Father. I was deemed Father. One of my most delightful memories was when I had been away a couple of days, and then returned to their home while the boys and their mommy were playing outside. As I approached the gate, Ben came running, arms spread wide. “Father!” he called. Not “Gramma.” Clearly we were going to pick up where we left off! “Father, you won’t believe it. The pirates got Old Joe. They killed him. But I poured the water of life on him. Now he’s Young Joe.” And so the story continues.
When my boys were little I remember being so afraid of telling stories – fearing that they somehow would not be good enough. Trust yourself and trust your child’s deep desire to hear, as my sons would say when they were little, “a story from your mouth, Mommy.”
Love to all,
Cynthia Aldinger is founder and Director of LifeWays North America