There’s a time-honored tradition of storytelling in my family. Well, at the very least, my father did a lot of it. We would ask him for a story and he’d make one up on the spot, almost always a tale of his childhood. The kicker was that my brother and I would be able to pick the setting, the cast and the major plot points, often as he went along. So, if halfway through, we wanted to know if they had to parachute out of the plane, my dad would just say, “it turns out we did,” and he’d have to figure out where they landed and how to make the original story work with the changes. Not too different from being a Hollywood script writer, really.
So we’d listen to the adventures we had with his friends “Skinny” O’Detts, “Washbucket” Miller and “Fats” Malone. Oh, and Mike. Dad never had a nickname, which we never caught on to until late in the game.
So this week I’ve started this tradition up with Abigail. She wasn’t interested in reading books tonight, so I decided I’d make up a story for her. She’s not so good at offering plot points yet, but I think she’ll get the idea soon. This story was about her stuffed tiger, Bengal, and how he spent his childhood. I set the scene and Abigail helped me choose another animal to be involved. Alligators were rejected right off the bat, but we eventually settled on an otter.
Here’s how it more or less unfolded:
When Bengal was a tiny tiger cub he lived in a cave in the jungle with his Momma and his four brothers and sisters. Their cave was next to a pond and Bengal would dive in, trying to catch the fish in his strong jaws. But they were too fast for him and they’d swim – swoosh! – away from him.
There was an otter who lived in the pond and he saw Bengal trying to fish. The otter was very old and he couldn’t swim all the way to the bottom any more. He said to Bengal, “If you go to the bottom and bring back some clams and oysters (this was a very special jungle) I will catch you some fish.”
Bengal thought this sounded like a good idea so he took some deep breaths and swam to the bottom. He found some clams and oysters and used his sharp claws to pull them off the rocks. Then he swam back to the top and gave them to the otter.
The otter was so happy that he ate the clams and oysters right away, before diving into the water to catch fish for Bengal. The fish were still fast, but the otter could swoosh, too, and he caught a few and brought them back to Bengal.
Bengal said thanks, and then put the fishin his mouth and swam to shore. That night, he shared his fish with his Momma and his four brothers and sisters and they all slept well with their full bellies.