Since my daughter was born, I have told more stories and read more children's books than I ever thought humanly possible. Reading Goodnight Moon 76 times in a row was inconceivable until my daughter had a bad fever -- we only stopped there because my mouth was so dry I needed an IV of coconut water to rehydrate. Since my child blossomed into a toddler, not a day has passed where I haven't read at least ten books three times each, or told enough stories to flex my imagination to body builder status.
From the beginning of time, narratives have been significant to the formation and continuation of human culture -- it is no wonder a fascination with stories extends to children as well. We relate to our friends and families by telling stories about our days. We get to know one another with stories from our past. We imagine the future by concocting stories of what may be. The majority of our conversations revolve around storytelling. They connect us to one another.
Stories are also an extremely effective tool for educating children. Their innate sense of empathy is often awakened by the right story. At times, the rules I impose in our house may seem like a tyranny to my daughter, but when I explain the logic through story, she usually understands my rationale. Like the story of the alligator who ate too much ice cream, got a tummy ache and then was sad.
Turns out I am not the only one who comes up with stories that have a greater meaning. My 3-year-old daughter relayed this story for me recently, a reminder of the important lesson all of our children can teach us:
Munch: "Mamma, will you tell me a story?"
Toni: "Munch, I have told you a gajillion stories today. Why don't you tell me a story?"
Munch: "OK. Once upon a time, I was running so fast. And I ran right into your heart."
Toni: "You ran into my heart?"
Munch: "Yeah, and then I broke it!"
Toni: "Oh no! You broke my heart! Then what did you do?"
Munch: "I got out my Munchee tools, and I fixed it!"
Toni: "Phew! So you fixed my heart with your Munchee tools?"
Munch: "Yeah! Because you didn't really know how your heart worked. But I fixed it, and now it's all better!"