Thursday, January 27, 2011

The story that was the answer

When songs, stroking the hair, hushing, breathing in the ear, pleading, leaving and returning, and tucking-in didn't work to resettle an upset and sitting-up-in-bed Esky...I decided I needed to try something new.

So I said a prayer that I would know what to do.
And then I knew what to do.

My sister asked, "So what was the answer?"

The answer, was to tell her a story.

It surprised me. Esky is 20 months old. I didn't think she'd have the attention span for a story without pictures at middle of the day, let alone the middle of the night...when she was already frazzled. And yet, when I asked, "Would you like me to tell you a story?" she understood and stopped crying (after having been crying on and off for more than an hour). I then said, "Well, you need to lay down to listen to this story." She did. She was still quiet.

I then mentally scrambled for what I was going to say. The story would need to focus on vocabulary that Esky was confident with in order for her to understand without supporting images, and further, would need some repetition or structure to keep her focussed. I began, not knowing where I was going, inspired by this and that. (Why I didn't just retell one of her many storybooks' stories from memory - since I have so many memorised - I do not know. It was late/early - take your pick).

---This is an approximation of what I said
(with Esky's favourite words in italics):

There once was a cat called Lucius, and he was very thirsty. He said, "I need a drink!" He decided he would go for a walk to see if he could find some water. So he walked and walked and walked and walked. Aha! He found a water hole! He drank the water. [Slurp!] It was sweet. He wanted to share with his friends. So Lucius went looking for someone to share the water with. He walked and walked and walked and walked.

Then Lucius found an elephant called Lily. "Lily!" I've found some water - you must have some - it's so sweet!"

said, "Okay!"

And so Lucius showed her where to go. They walked and walked and walked and walked.
(At this point, Esky was giggling a little each time I said "and walked.")

When Lucius and Lily got to the water hole, Lucius realised all this walking had made him thirsty again! So Lucius and Lily had a big drink! [Slurp!]

...then the story repeats as Lucius and Lily fetch a monkey [Oo oo, Aa aa!], and then the three fetch a giraffe [so tall!], and THEN the four fetch a lion [Roar!].


Just as I was preparing myself for the lion being angry because there was no water left, and what tragic repercussions might ensue, I noted Esky was gone; out...asleep, and deep breathing.

And that is the story that was the answer.

P.S. When we were away in Queenstown, Esky routinely walked laps around the edge of the spa pool (the seat around its edge being raised high enough that she could keep her head above water). To help her take those first steps, unaided, Haki and I encouraged her by repeating, "Walk, and walk, and walk," because otherwise she would hold her hand out towards us after each tentative step. After gaining confidence, she then chanted, "Wakawakawakawaka!" as she displayed her new wading routine.
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