Among my fondest childhood memories are the times my father would sit with me before I fell asleep at night, and he would tell me stories. He is the best storyteller. I always listened to the very end, although sometimes stories would end prematurely because he had fallen asleep.
When Julian and Arthur were newborns and we had some sleepless nights, they would lie next to me in bed, and I would tell them stories. My favorite was the one about a big city crocodile and his adventures in the East River. I remember both of my boys just being so peaceful and listening to my voice, words washing over them, until they fell asleep.
Now Julian is old enough for some real story telling. We read books before nap and bedtime. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I have Julian home with me, I put Arthur down for nap a little earlier than Julian. We usually do an art project or decorate cookies or cuddle up in bed and read a few books. And lately we’ve been getting into story-telling.
I always ask Julian to pick two things. It’s usually an animal and, you guessed it, the subway. So today we had a story about a little lion who had to get his guitar fixed and needed to ride the train to Atlantic Ave./Barclays Center. He was the only little lion around, but there were many big tigers on the train as well who scared him with their loud roars but turned out to be quite friendly. At Atlantic Terminal the little lion had to make a pitstop to buy a piece of chocolate the size of his face. The story stayed with that piece of chocolate for a while…it took a long time for all of the chocolate to melt in the little lion’s mouth. Later in the afternoon Julian, Arthur and I paid a visit to the chocolate store on our street. Like, in real life.
Today was not the greatest of days. Julian and I butted heads a lot. An hour or so after he had gone to bed he showed up in the bathroom as I was about to jump in the shower, saying that I had promised him another story, but we had both forgotten about it. I told him sorry, it was too late now, and I would tell him one tomorrow.
After my shower I saw that he was still awake, so I snuck into his room, cuddled up next to him in his tiny toddler bed, and told him the story about Millie the Elephant who lives in Long Island and was looking for a big city adventure in Manhattan. She saw Central Park, the Freedom Tower, Times Square, and the Empire State Building – although she wasn’t allowed up, because elephants are not allowed! Also, did you know how many people it takes to push an elephant’s bum through the subway doors? Ask Julian. He knows.