Monday, January 08, 2007

The Girl Had No Oatmeal

Several, several weeks ago (maybe months ago), I decided to make up a story for Sarah at her bedtime. The Cliffs Notes version of the story goes something like this:

A little girl lived up in a cabin on a mountain all by herself. This little girl only ate oatmeal. One morning, she woke to find that she had no oatmeal. So, she walked down the mountain to buy some more. Once in town, she discovered that all of the stores no longer sold oatmeal. They only sold bread, unusual breads, forcing the little girl to buy blue and white snowflake bread. The end.

There were bears and deer and other random tidbits to the story. I'm leaving that all out, because they really made no sense. Really, the entire story made no sense. But, if pressed, I'd have to say that a little girl who had no oatmeal was the main idea of the tale.

Last night, as I was going through the bedtime struggle routine, I could tell that Sarah was not going to go down easily. So, I decided that I'd make up a story for her.

This story involved pink rabbits who lived in a pink house and only ate pink food. Just when I was about to introduce my surprise element, blue rabbits (Ooohhh...), Sarah says, "I want you to say, 'But, the girl had no oatmeal'."

I was confused. I wasn't sure what she was asking for. I thought she wanted me to add oatmeal to the story. So, I did. Pink oatmeal. I am a genius like that.

Frustrated, she said, "No. I want you to say, 'But, the girl had no oatmeal'."

Then, I thought that maybe she was getting oatmeal confused with porridge and she really wanted to hear about Goldilocks. I tried that story.

Again she said, "No. I want you to say, 'But, the girl had no oatmeal'."

Finally, I said, "I don't think I understand. Why don't you tell me the story?"

To my amazement, she launched into the story about the girl with no oatmeal who was forced to eat blue and white snowflake bread. In complete detail.

I was shocked! I had completely forgotten about the story. Even more, I never imagined that she had listened to the story so closely and would remember so many details. I was just trying to put her to sleep. Had I known she would actually pay attention to what I said, the silly tale of oatmeal and bread would have never crossed my lips. No. I would have actually thought before I spoke and tried to give the story some semblance of sense - maybe even thrown in a lesson about potty training or the evils of whining.

Now, I feel the pressure. I can't just babble at her at night. I'm going to have to hammer out a frame for the story, decide on the most important lessons I'd like to incorporate that night, flesh out the characters, introduce symbolism, edit, edit again, tighten the conclusion, jot some useful points for post-story discussion... Or, not. I could just stick to oatmeal and bread. I'm no Shakespeare after all, and she is only two.


At 2:51 PM, Anonymous jen said...

oh, i so feel you. it's getting to that point around here too...where what i say actually matters..and i have to remember it, and we have to recall it over and over.

winging it will only take us so far...who's going to tell us what we are really supposed to do....?!

wink. sort of.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger scribbit said...

Oh sometimes their memories scare me. I hope they don't remember EVERYTHING I do with such accuracy. I make too many mistakes for that.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger QT said...

Uh-oh - yeah, you will have to be a little more careful. What about "Where The Sidewalk Ends"? That's a nice, long book full o'nonsense that I read whenever I have to put kids to bed. HAven't heard any nightmare complaints yet either.


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