Storytelling to Rescue
- November 6, 2016
My son is five plus now and although this is his first year of a grade school (he completed two years of preschool before this current school), he does not like to talk about his classmates, his studies and class work, lunch or fruit sharing, at home. I have very little idea of what and how he plays in sports activity time, whether he shares their tiffin, and how he is escorted from his class room to the school bus.
My general questions such as Who are your best friends in the class, OR Did you share your tiffin with someone, do not interest him. When I persist, he does not like it. At the very best, he recites one liners without any energy and without an eye contact with me. There is no juice in his friendship tales, and sometimes I cannot make out whether he is speaking the truth.
My purpose is not to know about his friends to dish out their secrets, I want to foster a habit of sharing school stories with me. So that I could provide him a protective gear, when required.
I continue to feel the itch every evening when I am back from work, and he continues to apply a similar brand balm to my affected area. A common denominator keeps the competition kicking and that is storytelling. We both love stories. One fine evening when only two of us were at home (it rarely happens though), I engaged him. He was making shapes with clay and I started passively.
Let me guess who was sitting next to you in your class. That tall boy that I met in our PTM (Parents Teacher Meeting) day?
No. It was Kirti today.
I see. And What did Kirti bring in her fruit tiffin today?
Did you both share it?
Is there is kid in your class whom the teacher often that he or she is too slow to eat?
Ian. He is very slow.
In doing writings also?
No, Kanishk is slow in writing.
So, what the teacher says to Kanishk?
You are too slow. Come and sit in my chair and…
And, who has the best handwriting in the class?
Janvi and Armaan.
I forget the name of kid whom the teacher says — your handwriting is very poor?
Aryaman and Akshom. Teacher gets angry with them.
Is Akshom, very talkative too?
No, the most talkative are Ian, and a bunch of 5 girls — Palak, Preeti, Jaspreet, Janvi, and Suamya. They are very talkative.
So you want to sit with them, daily?
No, I want to sit with Armaan and Vidansh. I like them because they are my best friends.
But why are they your best friends? Why not others?
Because they are my friends.
(He looked at me.)
By this time, he was running out of energy. I stopped the Q&A session, and helped him with his clay shapes.
Two days later, I got a similar opportunity.
That day, I forgot to ask — Who is the tallest kid in your class?
Ian is tallest.
I do not know of smallest. I cannot see those who are smaller than me.
(Pause.) Who runs fastest when you play?
Me. No, it is Ian, and me, we both run fastest. I told you he is tallest so he will run fastest. (He connected the dots like a good storyteller.)
Who brings the best tiffin?
One kid with whom you never want to sit?
Because she is naughty.
Now he was engaged. He was looking at me, and I saw the juice. As if he wanted to tell something.
Dad, should I tell who is my best friend?
That bunch of 5 girls that I told you. And there is a group that is little naughty — Mudit, Mukunj, Nikund, Gunmay, and I am also getting little naughty.
This was my last answer.
And it was a statement to end the conversation.
He summed up the engagement in one question and I did not want an anticlimax.
Kids love stories but they have little attention spans. This adds fun to storytelling as we as parents need to plan stories as snacks — short and chunky, frequent and varied, with focus on timing and engagement. To me, this is a good experience while planning storytelling for my clients too.
If you are a parent and a storyteller, share your experiences for how it helps you in parenting.