Monday, June 13, 2011

This may be a bad idea......

I'm not sure it's a good idea to ask for parenting advice on the internet (it seems like it's opening a whole pandora's box of opportunity for crazy people to talk to you) but I'm going for it.  Bring on the crazy.

Remember when we went "hiking" with 6 kids under the age of 5? One of the things that I didn't mention about that trip is that we were camping with 4 other families who all have children older than Claire.  They also happen to be people I really admire as friends and parents. I learned so much by watching them interact with their kids. One of the lessons I learned came from a mom who's 3-year old started complaining about 2 minutes up the trail. Instead of scolding him she said, in a very animated voice, "Hey...I would really like to tell you a story.  This is a story about a girl named Cinderella."  She then proceeded to tell him the story of Cinderella.  I didn't think it would work.  I figured that the boy had heard the story or watched the movie enough times that he would be able to tell the story himself.

I was wrong.  I don't know exactly how many stories they got through on the trail but by the time we reached the petroglyphs they were on to Little Red Riding Hood.  The mom had promised treats when we got there and they broke out sour gummy worms and passed them around.  Not 2 seconds after her had his sour gummy worm in hand the 3-year old said, "what happened next Mom?"  And back to the story they went.

I've taken over that practice.  When Claire gets fussy in the car or as we're walking someplace I start telling stories.  It seems to calm her.  It's testing my story-telling skills (I'm going to need a refresher in some of the fairy tales) but today I ran into a moral dilemma.  We were coming home from feeding our friends cat (I will try to get video of Miss C chasing the cat because it's hilarious...hopefully coming later this week) and Claire was fussing so I started telling the story of the 3 little pigs. 

We got into a little trouble when the wolf got into the house of the first little pig.  My little brain started racing.  Do I tell her that the wolf ate the pig?  Do I tell her that the pig got away?  I weighed my options and decided that the pig got away and ran to the other pigs house.  When the wolf finally tried to get into the last little pig's house by climbing down the chimney I ran into the same problem.  Do they burn him up? Cook him in a pot of boiling water? Or does he just get his tail singed?  I went with the latter but was sure to emphasize that he learned his lesson.

Fairy tales and stories are full of terrible violence.  Nature is also full of violence (wolfs really do eat pigs and it's not pretty or a slow painless death for the pig). Do you expose your kids to that?  Do you tell the stories the way they were written or do you soften them for sensitive ears?  Really, I'd like some suggestions....

And in totally unrelated news.....we are certainly ready for summer.....(that last picture is of the steal of a tent that the hubbs scored at the REI garage sale.  We were so thrilled that we had to set it up in the common green area of our complex after dinner)


  1. As my dd is almost one and I have another one arriving in December, I haven't had to decide on whether or not to soften the story line. I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful idea and I definitely plan to use storytelling on the trail. I also love seeing pics of people hiking with their little ones. We haven't been out too much except for a couple short morning hikes and it is inspiring to see that it can be done. I am hopeful it won't be that long before we are able to start backpacking again. Thanks for the post!

  2. I remember my dad telling me stories but I honestly can't remember any of the horrible bits. I'm sure they were there because my dad is like that, but clearly it didn't traumatize me. You may not want to take the advice of someone who has no kids and doesn't plan on having any but there you have it.

  3. I have edited several stories for the sake of preserving innocent ears, but I have to say, kids don't seem to view violence in the same way as adults. When the Queen of Hearts says, "Off with their heads," kids are not picturing all the gore that's associated with chopping off someone's head. They have no idea. They don't realize that people die when they get shot, etc. So, a little while ago (about 6 months or so) we started being pretty frank about where our food comes from and how it gets there etc. If Jakob asks, we usually tell him even if there is violence. We, of course, explain thoroughly what is wrong and such, but I don't think there's anything wrong with editing a story. Disney does it and I'm really glad they did. Reading the "real" fairy tales as an adult is horrifying.