We started applying to preschool when you were barely walking and we kept encountering the question of “tell us a little bit about your family and child.” Daddy and I talked about this a lot, sometimes over a few glasses of wine, and we had different answers for different stages of your life, and our lives. Here’s one of the essays Mommy wrote when you were two:
My husband and I were brought together by our love of storytelling. From the moment we first met, we were sharing stories about our families, friends, past professional lives and more. If love is our relationship’s lifeblood, storytelling is our oxygen. Even in our professional lives, we have a passion for storytelling. I’m a journalist, and telling stories is a way of learning every day for me. My husband had a previous career as a political speechwriter, has produced documentary films around storytelling and is currently creating his own story by founding a startup in the health and nutrition space.
So when we gave birth to a child, a feisty baby girl named Samara two years ago, we were so curious if she would love to tell stories. From the time she was born, it was clear she was her own individual and wouldn’t be forced into anything she didn’t want to do. But her personality—stubborn, curious, willful, sweet and chatty at times, and dramatically strident at others, certainly lends itself to being a great storyteller.
Around 8 months ago, when she was just shy of two years old, Samara found her first love: books. Fondness then turned into an obsession. She shunned basically every other toy we had bought her to only play with books. She wanted to take her books everywhere, from her music classes to the park. When throwing tantrums, she could only be consoled by books. Her favorites were (and continue to be) Peppa Pig books, Up Up Up, Dr. Seuss, any Princess books, Disney Frozen books, and Pinkalicious books (many of these gifts from her older cousins).
We were so ecstatic that she found something she loved, and of course, what parent wouldn’t love their kids to love books. She tried to read them but she of course she doesn’t know how to read. So she listens to us read the books, and memorizes the words, and combines that information with the pictures in the stories to tell her version of the story. Sometimes her versions are surprisingly similar to the real story, and other times, she has taken some serious creative liberties with the plot. I am in awe with where her mind travels with certain stories.
Around two months ago, one of our babysitters who also happens to teach Sunday school in her spare time brought a children’s Bible in her bag, called “The Story For Children.” Samara, being the nosy toddler she is, was looking through the babysitter’s bag and discovered this very large, and picture filled book.
This Bible is now her favorite book. She likes to sleep with it each night, and she likes to wake up reading it. Her favorite part is the chapter called “The Creation” and she talks about God far more freely than my husband and I. Sometimes she’ll just interject into conversation about God. The first time she did with Suneel and I, we were dumbfounded.
Did I mention we’re Hindu? My husband has never read the Bible, and I only read it once during a humanities class in college, with less attention to the religious significance and more focus on the literary influence.
But while we want her to learn about Hinduism, we are not judgmental, and feel the need to be open to what she loves.
Reading the Bible to her every night has been eye opening for both of us. To see a new story through our daughter’s eyes is a gift and we are both learning things about Christianity we’ve never known before.
So to answer our question when she was born, our daughter has become a storyteller, in her own, very unique, strong-willed way. What’s amazing to us is that she has helped her parents learn about a religion, and tradition that we were not at all familiar with. She has become the tale teller, and we are her audience.
With our two year old daughter actually educating us, we’ve discovered one of the most amazing joys that either of us as ever experienced with listening to stories. And so now we’re a family of three storytellers.