"Say it again, Mommy!" shouted my three-year-old gleefully. I glanced back at him. Teeth bright, he flashed a huge Cheshire cat grin back at me. "Again, Mommy!" he repeated, seeing he had my attention.
"Once upon a time, there were three little pigs..." I began again,emphasizing the three with a show of fingers.
It had only occurred to me to tell the story after we'd already counted and identified every body part twice, sung "Head, Shoulders,Knees and Toes" three times, and gone through every color and shape in the car. I looked at my son now. His short dirty blonde hair matched his brown and cherry streaked face. Dark blue eyes sparkled as his eyebrows alternately opened and furrowed as he took in every word. Already he was half off his seat, whether in anticipation or pent up energy, I'm not quite sure, although the occasional bounce suggested it was most likely the latter.
"I'm back," a deep baratone interrupted my story.
"Daddy!" two voices chimed in unison.
"Guys ready to go?" the familiar voice called to the back seat.
"Yeah," the boy said as the engine roared and the truck crept backwards.
Soon the story was forgotten as we rode off on the next adventure.
"Tell the pig story!" called a voice from above. I looked up to see the devilish grin peering down at me. His monkey grip was the only thing keeping him from falling as his body teetered precariously off the top bunk. "The PIG story!" he repeated as if for clarification.
"The story of the three LITTLE pigs?" I asked.
"Yep!" he said and sat straight on his bed.
I was amazed he'd remember a story I'd told only as a ploy to pass the time. Yet, with such a rapt audience, I couldn't dare deny his request. "Once upon a time there were THREE little pigs..."
I stared at my kids faces. My son's face in deep concentration as he tried to anticipate the next part of the story. My girl watched me curiously from the bottom bunk.
"And I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll..." I took a deep breath, "BLOW your house down!" I pretended to blow on the door of the brick house. "And do you know what happened?"
"It didn't fall down!" the top-bunk voice said.
"That's right!" I said and my son looked pleased. "So do you know what the big bad wolf did? He took another big deep breath and..." I paused a moment for effect, "Phhheeeewwww!!!" I blew on the imaginary door again. My son giggled and my girl smiled white teeth flashing. "And do you know what happened?" I asked again.
"It didn't fall down a-GAIN!" I heard with another giggle.
"Yep!" I affirmed, "and they told the big bad wolf to go away and he was never heard from again!"
Two stories later (at twice apiece), I tucked both of them in. As I left their room it occurred to me that my kids liked fairy tales. And I had had fun telling them to them. The realization struck me as something unique yet strangely obvious. Why hadn't I recognized it before? I knew, however, that I couldn't let this opportunity pass.
Two days later my fingers flew across the keyboard as the library's search engine churned over "fairy tales" in its data banks. I meticulously examined the options, jotting down the ones I thought my kids would like. Thumbelina and The Ugly Duckling were at the top of the list. The Princess and the Pea and The Little Mermaid came next. Finally, I just decided to jot down the number for the Hans Christian Andersen books and see what grabbed my attention. I settled on Fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.
That night we feasted on story after story, alternating between fables and fairy tales. I read them with vigor, my voice rising and falling with excitement. Daddy joined in too, reading a favorite for the second time. It felt good to have seen the need and filled it. I rejoiced at being able to open their minds to knew worlds and new stories. It wasn't until after I tucked them in and turned off the light, however, that I realized this is why I had kids, so that I could share with them all the goodness life has to offer. Only then did I appreciate how much it means to be called, "Mother."
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