I have always loved books and stories. During my years as a primary teacher, I indulged my passion for children’s books and loved telling (and listening to) stories with my class.
We have two gorgeous nephews, Fionn (3 1/2) and Liam (2). They have never met as they are from each side of the family, but their interests resemble those of almost every little boy of that age. Being train mad (and particular Thomas the Tank Engine enthusiasts), we have had plans for some time to take them both on a steam train ride during a special day together.
Fionn is at the age where he asks constant questions and wants to know what is going on around him. What is happening? Who put that over there? How does this work? And, of course, why? More recently, he is wanting to know: What will happen next?
A magical story
One of my favourite memories is of my father tucking me in bed at night when I was 4 and telling me the story of what was going to happen once I started school. I would get dressed in my school uniform and have some breakfast before Mum dropped me off at school. (She, of course, would go home straight away.) I would meet my friends and we would go into class and learn how to read books and write stories. We’d read our stories to each other, then have a little break when I could have a snack and a drink at playtime. (I already knew that the rest of my lunch box was to be saved for lunch time.) Then the bell would ring and we’d all go into class and learn how to count … and the story continued. Dad did a great job of getting all the details right and it was a story I loved, asking him for repeatedly and night after night. Of course, part of the appeal must have been that the story starred me!
In order to prepare Fionn for the upcoming event, we have talked at length about how we will come to get him in the car and go on a long ride to pick up Liam. We are going to go on a steam train ride – and the train might make a loud noise but that’s alright because you can just put your hands over your ears. Next, we’re going to feed the ducks some bread (not toast), then come back to our place for a picnic and to see our kitten – but she is shy and might be hiding (as she tends to do when visitors appear). Finally, we will drop Liam back at his grandparents’ then take Fionn home last.
It’s a story we’ve shared several times now and Fionn is already correcting me when I miss out a vital detail or inadvertently change the order of our plans. “Tell me the story again!” he asks me in delight. “And then what will we do?” he prompts me when he suspects I’m about to cut short the process by even a smidgeon. Liam, meanwhile, is blissfully ignorant of our plans and Fionn’s excitement.
Fingers crossed that the weather and every other variable will play nicely to allow our story to play out in real life sometime soon. Regardless of when we get to go on our adventure, I think the anticipation and the joy of telling (and retelling) the story will prolong the magic for Fionn – and leave us plenty mores stories to tell after the event.