How NOT to tell a story to a kid

Last weekend my cousin visited us with his family duly accompanied by his two little ones. Luckily for us the younger one(who,we were warned,is more mischievous of the two)went off to sleep as soon as they landed. However, our relief was short-lived as the other kid insisted that we tell her a story. Looking at my discomfiture,my cousin reassured me that any(just about any)story will do. I agreed reluctantly. Sensing my reluctance and suspecting that I might wriggle out of the deal,my cousin said in a matter-of-fact manner that story telling is a must in any get together where his little kids are present. And as I already violated that code of conduct last time we met,my case seemed rather weak. Further,to add to my troubles,I made a statement which was totally unnecessary and uncalled for(looking back). I said,perhaps just to cheer myself up,that I was better prepared this time for this task compared to our last meeting. I was hoping to pick up some familiar story which I had read recently from Bhagavata. The story I selected was that of the royal sage Ambarisa and the great ‘rishi’ Durvasa.
I summoned courage and started off in the typical style reserved specifically for kids:”Oru oorla oru raja irundaanaam. Anda rajavikku —-” etc etc. And soon I got lost and was completely stuck up. Although It was a very well known story,I didn’t know how to continue in a manner that a small kid would understand. How the hell would I translate “Ekadasi” or “Dwadasi” for a small kid. How would I describe a “vratam” or for that matter even a simple word like “Rishi”. As all such doubts crowded my mind all on a sudden,I choked completely,not knowing how to proceed.
Expectedly,I gave up. And to my great relief,my wife promptly picked up from where I left and came to my rescue. She managed to complete the story in a much better fashion(than myself). But God knows how much of the story the little one grasped,considering that there was a mere eerie silence on the part of the kid throughout the period of story narration. There was neither nodding of the head nor any facial expression from the kid.
My suspicion was further confirmed as the kid appeared quite disinterested after hearing the story and said “let me go and look up my brother in the bed room”.

This experience has really exposed my weakness in the art of story telling to young kids. One needs a totally different set of language skills and it always helps to add a bit of sensationalism to make it a little spicy. But then there is a huge difference between theory and practice.

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Published in: on October 3, 2009 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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