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Stories, observations, and reflections from a life of raising boys

The truth about story time

Jenifer DeMattia


There’s nothing like a good story. Something that makes you think. Transports you to another time. I thought about this when I took the boys to visit their great-grandmother the other day in the nursing home as she told us a story about her past. When I began story time with my son he was too little. He was more interested in turning the pages and then just getting off my lap. But eventually our nightly storybook routine began to stick. In my arms he would stare at the pictures and many times fade into sleep. And time moved quickly as it tends to do, and my sweet boy began to grow into his imagination. By the time he was in his big boy bed nighttime became extraordinary. It wasn’t just seeing his face light up when I began to read, or answering the questions he came up with, but it was the only moment during our day that my wild boy was still. He was worn down from the day and I had him there all to myself. There is something magical about my son’s room at night. With the lights dim under the covers I feel as though we are in the woods in our very own tent, and it’s just us existing underneath a vast sky of glow in the dark star stickers.

Story time changed when I became pregnant again. Nuzzled up for our nightly ritual, my son cuddled next to me in his car bed and his brother in my belly. Pure bliss. “Mama, wake up!” Oh woops. As I read the story became distorted and jumbly. Pages got skipped, and sometimes I would wake up with the book on my chest to find we had both fallen asleep. And after his brother arrived story time is still exciting but it’s rushed and sometimes I read with one hand while bouncing the baby with the other. If his brother is crying I just start reading the story really loud because I feel bad. And now he reads to me. He cant actually read, but he has his favorite books memorized, and has now grown to catch up with his independence as well. The amazing thing is that story time has surpassed books. When we’re playing together he asks, “Can you make up a story?” When we’re driving down the road, “Tell a story”. So I do. It usually starts once upon a time and is usually about a little boy and the adventures he gets into. When he’s sick, when he has a bad dream; the cure is always a story.

They were having an activity when I walked in the room at the nursing home. Very quickly I realized that all eyes were on the two little boys I had in tow. If you ever for a minute forget that children are magical creatures, just take them into a nursing home. You will create smiles you didn’t know still existed. My grandmother longs to be back in her home and as we visited with her I realized that she was doing the best thing she could to transport herself to another place, she was telling us a story. And just like that we were all somewhere else. That’s why I believe children have the effect they do on all of us. They are stories with mostly blank pages. The possibilities are truly endless. My hope for myself as well as my children is that we create a book of life worth reading. The truth about story time is that it’s just as much about us as it is for them. There are still adventures for us all, just begging to be written.