Story love

My family loves to tell stories.

Mostly on each other.

At every gathering, my husband and our two sons continually try to one-up each other with their own versions of stories, all of which are calculated for maximum comic effect followed by boisterous laughter.

My granddaughter Scout, age six, is used to this now. She smiles, shakes her head, sometimes smacks her forehead with her palm, and sighs: “C’mon, Franna, let’s play.” She doesn’t have to ask me twice…

Micah, five months old as of today, is just beginning to take notice of conversations by shifting her gaze from speaker to speaker. She’s probably wondering the baby version of These are my people??

It so happened at a recent family gathering that as I was telling a funny story about Grandpa, I noticed little Micah, sitting with her dad on the couch, watching me with rapt attention.

I paused. “Goodness,” I said, “look how Micah is listening!”

“Oh yes,” said my daughter-in-law, “she loves a story.”

I had a sense, then, of something meaningful in the making. Something of great significance. Something being recorded deep in Micah’s baby brain, before she even has words for it, long before images and moments become archivable memories. She may not understand quite yet that I am Franna, her grandmother; she hasn’t yet learned words and attached meanings; but she could tell by the cadence of my voice that I was communicating something. She watched me intently, absorbing it.

It made me mindful.

It also reminded me of her dad’s little brother, who, before birth, stopped moving around whenever the piano was played at church. He’d kick back up afterward. He’s listening to the music, I told his dad at the time.

And he was. He’s our musician-mortician son. He’s loved music all of his life and can play anything he wants on the piano and guitar. Without sheet music. The patterns and chords are all in his brain.

Which brings me back to his baby niece, who bears a strong resemblance to him in many ways, especially in this serious manner of absorbing of things.

Micah loves music, too; we’ll see how that plays out…

What I know for certain is that, at five months, she loves story before she knows what story is.

I predict she’ll be the greatest storyteller of us all.

Micah with her preacher dad, my oldest son, while he works

*******

with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March

10 thoughts on “Story love

  1. Oh, my gosh! That sweet face!!! She is such a doll baby. I love your son’s shirt – – being a girldad is a blessing (my son says that of the three boys and one girl, the girl is always the one keeping them on their toes, whether sweetness or sass). What a blessing family stories are! The one-upping story battles I can see and hear, and what bonding they do for all of us to know our stories, know our people and our roots. Yes, I’m sure she’s knowing that you all are her people, and thinking how fortunate she is to have so many loving arms around her. Music is a mystery, isn’t it? The wonders it works on all of us. I’m fascinated by the stories of the womb, and equally fascinated how those with late-stage Alzheimer’s can come out of the fog and sing songs word for word like they’re standing in church. This is a gold nugget of a slice, and I know your family is grateful that every day, you preserve memories and words for the generations to come to be able to enjoy. You’re both weaving and leaving a strong legacy of story.

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  2. Oh, I thoroughly believe Micah is building her communication skills while listening to your stories. When my preemie was tested for speech services in elementary school (she referred herself, realizing her missing medial “r” sounds were frustrating her), her verbal intelligence score was pretty high. Some speculate that preemies may gain this due to exposure to adult language outside the womb at an earlier time than most would have. And I could tell in my resource room which students had been engaged in conversation regularly at home, and which hadn’t.

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  3. Look at those alert eyes! As Stella starts to develop speech, I notice how much she understands, so much more than she can say. Watching grandchildren develop is such a joy.

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  4. Well, you had me at “stories.” I don’t doubt at ALL that this beautiful child already loves story. What’s not to love?
    My favorite line, I think, is where you mention your family tells stories “on each other.” This is the perfect way to put it! I can picture our family gatherings, with the hashing and rehashing of family stories. They change in the telling based on the teller. Or family stories that get told tag-team style, with one member telling until someone else decides they’ve got a better, more important detail. All done with smiles and good spirits (and the occasional ribbing).
    I also connected with your thoughts about love for things being ingrained since before birth. I didn’t notice with my first-born, but with my second son, it hit me how much of his personality and preferences were laid before he was ever born. Truly amazing.

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  5. “she loves story before she knows what story is” – this is beautiful – and makes me think of all that story is – relationship, voice, laughter, sharing… no wonder Micah loves story. And also, she is adorable!!

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