I Heart Story Time

July 5, 2011 at 2:53 am (Uncategorized)

A fortnight since my last post…  call an ambulance, DoctorDi is flat-lining!!! I have to do something about returning to regular posting or else I fear this blog shall quietly die of neglect – a very sad prospect indeed. This post is being written at the tail end of the day – I’ve started dinner, hung the washing, folded other washing, picked up the dry-cleaning, given Master J half a feed, and now Llewie is giving him a bath during the interval…

Today was the last ‘Gymbaroo’ session of term – he loves it, and I love the way it gives us something structured to do every Monday. They break over the school holidays, and I am always eager for us to start again. Now I know some women locally with babies the same age, and now Master J is more active and interactive, I don’t feel the actual need of it so much anymore, but I recognise his enjoyment as a sound reason to continue. He really adores it – he beams from the opening bar of the daggy welcome song to the closing bars of the farewell one. And that means I love it too.

But the thing I really love – really, truly, madly, deeply, absolutely love – is story time.

Story time began almost immediately Master J was born. I can’t exactly remember when, but it was very early in his life – within the first few weeks. Llew and I each have a chair in Master J’s room, and every night, once Master J is clean, warm and well fed, we take our seats for story time. Mostly Llew holds him and I read – only because Llew misses all the cuddles throughout the day – but sometimes we swap, especially if Master J is unsettled. It usually doesn’t last for very long, because story time is shortly followed by sleepy time, but it’s the highlight of the day, every day.

Master J’s library is already quite robust, thanks mainly to Uncle S and Auntie M, who virtually backed up a truck loaded with children’s classics the day he was born. Llew and I haven’t been able to resist adding to it – naturally – and other friends have had a hand in his flourishing collection too. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is standing back, regarding his options, and carefully selecting the next title for story time…

We read far and away beyond his age during story time – we read proper books with fully realised storylines. Along with Dr Seuss, which he flat out adores, during the day I include age appropriate, single noun style picture books – but night time is the right time, I think, for fully-fleshed narrative. So he gets Greek myths; A Very Naughty Rabbit: Tales of Mayhem and Mischief; Where the Wild Things Are (though that we usually complete in one sitting); The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (and the wicked Banksia Men are still as terrifying as I’ve always remembered their being); Pinocchio and Winnie the Pooh: Best-Loved Stories (which are unexpectedly amusing – I really don’t recall Winnie being the accidental comedian he most assuredly is).

It’s the next day now… Darkling Deb has come over to play with Master J so I can do some writing, but unfortunately he is currently screaming the place down at the other end of the apartment… poor Deb! No wonder I am short on volunteers!!! Is that silence…? Perhaps.

Or perhaps not. Oh dear.

It’s really impossible concentrating while that’s going on… I don’t know what to do! Just a sec. I’ll be back.

Okay, it’s about an hour later, and they have gone for a walk, so fingers crossed… he’s very funny around unfamiliar people at the moment – and I don’t mean funny ha ha. Exhausting! Is it always this exhausting?! I wonder if younger mothers have more energy or if it’ll totally stuff you at any age…

Anyway, back to story time. The thing is, Master J loves it. He snuggles in, he watches, he listens, he looks at the pictures when I hold the book in close, and you can see him relaxing, you can see story time working its special magic of preparing him for sleep. His lids grow heavy, his eyes roll back, his breathing changes, his hands (always so busy) slacken across the rhythmic sigh of his chest… it’s lovely. He’s usually only a little bit asleep when we put him down, but not for very long. When it’s story time, sleepy time is never far away.

From our point of view, the rediscovery of all these long ago beloved books is nothing short of revelatory. I can’t believe how many characters end up ‘deadibones’ in The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie – it’s really quite violent, as well as very gripping and clever. And Where the Wild Things Are? Astonishingly brief! I’d always remembered Max’s adventure so vividly, and loved it so well, that it was a shock to find the book so short and sweet. I must have mentally expanded the scale of the book to fit the scale of his escapade… Oh, it’s really something seeing all these old friends again.

Aside from another freelance job, I’ve not been entirely idle on the writing front – the latest feature for the Varuna Alumni News is up; it’s on plagiarism and attribution for anyone who’s interested.

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10 Comments

  1. Woo said,

    One of the greatest pleasures of my life is reading stories to my nieces, too. Especially all the ones I loved as a child. Luckily, my sister-in-law’s mother kept all the original Ladybird books from the 70’s that I remember (Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Hen, Topsy and Tim etc etc) so I completely understand the nostalgic delight you and Llew must be having with Master J at story time.

    Have you got a copy of my all-time favourite The Tiger Who Came To Tea?

    • doctordi said,

      No, Woo, I don’t think we do have that one – but if it’s your all-time favourite I shall certainly have to keep an eye out for it now. It’s incredibly lovely reading aloud to a child, isn’t it? I don’t know who’s getting more out of it, us or him. Oooh, and to have the originals from our own vintage… that would be especially cool. We have The Magic Faraway Tree and one other oldie but most of Master J’s books shall the worn in by the little man himself – a beautiful thought in its own right.

  2. litlove said,

    It was the best bit of motherhood for me. I read to my son for about an hour every night until he was 12. I felt that whatever disasters the day had held (and there were plenty) we could neutralise them and get into a happy peaceful zone with stories. It’s lovely that Llew is taking part, too.

    • doctordi said,

      Llew loves story time easily as much as I do. An hour a night! Master J would never last that long – but I hope we work up to something like that. God, heartbreaking to think of the day story time’s no longer required – it makes my chest feel tight and Master J hasn’t even said his first word!

  3. Lilian Nattel said,

    It sounds magical for all of you. I’m smiling.

  4. Grad said,

    All my children love to read as adults. I attribute that, at least in part, to the bedtime stories we read every night – the kids jockying for a good position so they could both hear and see the pictures. It was such a fun time of day. In fact, my favorite picture of the three of them was taken one night, after baths and jammies, and all set for story time.

    • doctordi said,

      That photo sounds cuuuuuuute – I can see it so clearly in my mind’s eye. Scrubbed open faces, eyes wide… gorgeous. And I’m sure you’re right, Graddikins. Something so special must foster a love of reading – I certainly hope so.

  5. Pete said,

    Finally got to read this post and I’m so glad I did because I loved hearing about how storytime works its sleepy magic with Master J. I can see I’ll have to find Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and also re-find Where the Wild Things Are etc. I wouldn’t say we’re on to storylines yet – practically anything that rhymes works for us. We can also both probably recite the words to the Gruffalo from memory.

    I can’t comment about how not posting affects readership but you won’t lose this reader in a hurry (even if it takes me a while to get round here).

  6. doctordi said,

    Aw, thanks Pete. I’m extremely glad not to lose you – and back at you, by the way. I really understand the other demands on your time at the moment, and the effect on the blog, but we’ll get there, buddy!

    I’m so glad and not at all surprised you’ve already embarked upon reading to Baby F too – it’s the best.

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