Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pause for Gratitude: Telling Stories

The story tellers.

Obviously, we read insane amounts of books to the kids.  Nolan and i believe in the power of stories, of learning morals and truths in a round about way- soaking them in slowly and the truths permeating through subtle language.  I also believe in making up stories to tell my kids.  The power of words shouldn't be doubted, and in our world, the written word is dying.  Especially when it comes to it's importance with our children.

Off of my soap box now.  When Owen goes to sleep, Eva and I lie down and cuddle.  I read her stories, then I rub her back- we tell each other a story.  Tonight, Eva was telling one of her usual "I am the princess" stories and I was thinking about something she and I have been dealing with, oh, a LOT.

Her extremely competitive nature.  There's a difference between the healthy nature of competitiveness and falling apart in a mad, furious, ball of tears that refuses to do something again unless she wins at it.  No, let's work on this to get better, just "I better win or darn it all."  I wanted to think up of a story that told her that winning doesn't always get you as far as trying hard or doing the good thing instead of whatever it takes to win.

Enter my very convoluted story called "The Unicorn Brothers".  There were two brothers who were always competing and fighting, so their grandmother challenged them to find ways for the next 3 days to do something good for somebody as a contest of sorts.  One brother used shortcuts and ended up not helping the animals or people he 'helped' but came back home earlier to tell his grandmother how he helped them.  His grandmother wasn't impressed and he got angry because he wanted to 'win' so badly.

His brother unicorn spent the day quietly looking for people or animals to help and ended up usually helping the people or animals his brother unicorn hadn't really helped.  He never thought about the competition as something to win but rather as a way to help instead.  He would come home at the end of the day, tell his grandmother what he did and she was happy.  This made his brother very jealous and angry.

The third day, the older brother unicorn decided to follow his little brother and whatever he did, undo it to do it better.  When his younger brother found him waiting, he decided that he would help his brother by lying and saying he had done mean things all day so that the older brother could say he fixed things.

Neither knew that grandmother unicorn gave both brothers a potion in their dinner that would make them tell the truth.  Little brother unicorn ended up telling their grandmother he decided to help his older brother win because it was so important to him to win.  Older brother unicorn told their grandmother that winning was the most important thing to him before they fell asleep early.

The next day, grandmother unicorn told the brothers she had tricked them into telling the truth and that the older brother lost because he only thought of himself but his younger brother was thinking about everyone else that needed help instead of himself, so therefore he won.  Older brother was so mad that he left and never returned because he was too proud and mad that he lost.  Younger brother learned that helping was actually winning and stayed with grandmother unicorn.  Together they kept helping people and animals but older brother never came back again, his pride was too strong.

So, at the end of the story, I asked Eva which brother unicorn she thought won and she begrudgingly admitted that the little brother had won by focusing on helping instead of winning.  Perhaps, she'll keep the story in mind the next time we play Go Fish or Bingo?  I guess we'll see, but I was glad to hear her actually finally admit that winning isn't everything.  Let's hope that stories keep helping our kids learn important lessons, instead of being amusing ways to pass the time.

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