We stumbled upon bedtime story telling on a late night. That particular evening, I thought I’d tell Ty a story instead of reading him a book to rush the process and haste him to bed.
It began with Krik—Krak (the Haitian-Creole version of Knock knock—Who’s There). One of my little attempts at injecting the Haitian culture into our boys’ lives.
The first story I could think of was of me eating a an old piece of chewing gum found under a bleacher on my front porch…and the trouble I got into.
Why on earth would I tell him this? I must have been more tired than I thought, and as I rambled on about chewing the yucky gum, the memories rushed back. So, I continued with more and more of the story, even reenacted grandma’s reaction. And, oh she was not happy at all. My narration was soon interrupted by a burst of laughter.
Ty thought my story was hilarious. He alternated between “Ewww” and “Hahaha” the entire time. My grossness was quite amusing to him.
I didn’t share this story with him to humiliate myself or cause ridicule. In fact, I don’t even know why it came to mind. I do think I was around his age, certainly no older than 7 when this happened, so maybe this is what brought the memory back. Or perhaps it’s because my overreacting mom carved the event in my mind forever. However I’m glad I shared it with him and here’s why.
I think sometimes we have to let our children know that we were once children as well. That we played, belly laughed (well, we should still belly laugh), did the wrong thing sometimes and got in trouble just as they do. I think we ought to share the joys of our childhoods with them. A part of their childhood should be hearing about the things our parents did well, the concerts we attended, the friends we made and perhaps still have, overall the collectiveness of our upbringing.
That evening, I stepped from my adult pedestal and met my 6 year old, right where he is at this point in his life. He met the mom-as-a-child-me and loved her. He has done some silly things and some outright yucky things. For once in his life there was a thing that I did wrong that he had not done. And even more outrageous, I got in trouble.
I am not advocating becoming children alongside our kids, so they can relate to us. I firmly believe parents should be parents. I am however saying that our kids should know that we were not born parents and adults, that we too struggled with obedience, being clean and tidy, sharing our toys, being kind to our siblings or whatever they may be struggling with. The apple does not usually fall too far from the tree and chances are there are lessons from our pasts that can help them mature or teach them of our relationship with our own parents and with the Lord; and these are well-shared in the context of storytelling.
I’ve since shared stories with him about my childhood nicknames, about the times when there was just not enough money for uniforms and supplies, and the times when we prayed for food like manna from heaven. I’ve also told him about fights that I had with friends for so many reasons on so many different occasions. And of spending the night on the balcony under the moon’s ray. At the end of every story that began with a need or an area where I needed to grow, God sweeps in with His full provision like a King on a chariot and saves the day. My stories have elicited shock, sadness, joy, admiration, awe, comfort and reassurance. When I tell him that God has not changed and He will be here for him in the same way, he simply smiles.
Teachings from our pasts in the form of stories can point our children to God in a powerful way. Through our stories, they can come to know the mighty works of God in our lives. Several verses throughout the Old Testament urge parents to share the testimonies of their salvation from Egypt, the years spent roaming in the desert, and other times spent in captivity with their children (see Exodus 10:2, Exodus 13:8. Exodus 13:14, Deuteronomy 32:7, Joshua 4:6, Psalm 44:1, Psalm 78:4, Psalm 78:6).
Just Imagine! Teaching them to love the Lord a little more, to grow into their God-given abilities and personalities, and to grow closer to us can be as simple as tucking them in bed and saying, “Krik—Krak!”