Once, there was a boy and a cat who lived in a cottage in the woods with the boy's mama...
When our kiddo was around 3, I started telling a story one day. I wanted some way to talk about why sometimes we need to do as we're told, without lecturing or scolding. So there was a story, with a boy and a cat who could talk. They lived alone in the woods at the time. Kiddo loved it, and asked for more. But, he said, they needed a mama.
For about a year and a half, Boy and Cat were our nightly bedtime story. I even recorded stories for my partner to play for him sometimes, when I wasn't going to be home due to travel or work. Every night, the story started the same way, with the boy waking up and finding his mama at the kitchen table. Every night, the story ended with the boy and cat falling asleep. In between, they had many, many adventures.
There was a growing cast of characters, from the Queen of the Tinies, a kindly fairy regent who lived in a palace inside a huge old apple tree. There were The Girl and Phillip, the boy's two best friends. There were the parents of the three children, and the multitude of fairies and forest people. And there was Baby Dragon, who hatched from an egg in the Queen's breakfast room.
Some nights, I was tired, and the story was short and simple. Recorded stories, sent by email, were short by necessity. Other nights, the stories were long adventures, with danger and excitement and triumph. Some nights, I was so tired, I'd drift off in the middle of the story and start talking about completely unrelated things, until our kiddo prodded me back into wakefulness and back into the story.
The framework of the stories, with their stock characters and settings, made the stories easy to start. Most of the time, I had absolutely no idea where we were going in that night's installment, only that it would end with dinner and bedtime, and peaceful sleep. It didn't matter. A story always showed up, and because it was a routine, it was okay for the story sometimes to fall completely flat. Some of the stories were dull and boring. Some were masterpieces.
I have put together an mp3 of one of the stories for you. There is a slight jump in the middle, as the story got a little long to be sent by email, and I had to send it in two parts. It's no work of high art, just a simple little story from a mother to her child, to help him to sleep. The sound quality isn't great, and you can hear me sniffling and the car running in the background. I'm sending you this imperfect story on purpose, because it is real, and because we need not be afraid to tell stories in our real lives, in imperfect situations.
If you would like to hear this little Boy and Cat story, please click RIGHT HERE to be added to my mailing list, and you'll get a link to the story within the next 24 hours. Again, it's my gift to you. I only ask that you treat it with kindness and respect. Feel free to share the link with friends and family, but please don't repost it without permission.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.