I love story time. To be honest, I have gotten away from it a little. I used to be so good at laying down with my children at night and listening to them read. What a joy it is to hear them learning and sounding out words. So, I was looking forward to this one. We waited all day. Not only was Jack going to read to me, but I knew that it is a more special time than any to have those wonderful talks.
I often encourage parents, that if they really want to know what’s going on with their children, bedtime is the best time. There is something about those droopy eyelids that work like a truth serum. Of course, it doesn’t happen instantly, but if you make it routine to tuck your kids in bed at night, or say night time prayers, or read books together it becomes something they look forward to. Add to that a question or phrase that you say to them every night.
“How was your day today?”
“Was there anything you wanted to talk about tonight?” or
“Do you have any questions about _____ that happened today?”
They may not answer all at once, but if you continue to do this night after night, you will eventually find them testing the safety that you are providing by asking that question or opening up.
Story time is a great time to read books that open up feelings and that also teach how to handle them. There are so many wonderful books out there and I will give you a few of what I have. The teachable moments don’t necessarily happen the first time you read that book. It’s when you read them again and again, where they children know what’s going to happen next that they can really think about it and possible relate their own experiences. I once read a therapeutic book to a little girl about a boy who had stuffed all his feelings inside and it made him feel like there was a big angry ball inside his stomach. He tried lots of things to get rid of that angry ball in his stomach, including being mean to his little sister and ignoring it. Eventually he went to a magic lady who told him that if he tried to use words to describe how he was feeling and even talk about the bad things that happened to him, that big angry ball in his stomach would go away. He learned to talk, learned to paint, and eventually one day told the magic lady about the terrible thing that happened to him. Slowly, the big angry ball started to disappear as he learned to talk to those around him who were safe. We must have read that books three or four times before the little girl finally asked me if I was like the magic lady in the story.
Tonight, we read “Chester Raccoon, and the Big Bad Bully”. I honestly can’t tell you how many times we have read this book- so many I thought they were tired of it. But we had a little twist in our experience of it tonight. Jack did a great job reading it and I was reminded of how much I love to be read to and how this moment will be gone soon.
In the story, the bully is described as a prickly stone that all the forest animals help shape and buff so that he can be like the other stones. The mother in the story encourages the kids to realize that the bully may not know how to act differently and may need a friend. Being his friend and showing him how he can and can’t treat others will possibly help him learn to be a team player. What I wasn’t expecting, was for Aidan and I to have a conversation about how all of us need to be shaped and learn new things. Aidan is in a tough season of peer socialization. I encouraged him to trust Daddy and I as we teach him some important things about how to make friends, but also be a friend.
As I look back, Aidan taught me a great lesson. Just as much as he needs to trust me, I need to trust God as he is shaping me. I may not know how to act different. It may have always been my “way”. But that doesn’t make it the best way and certainly doesn’t give me the right to say everyone else will just have to deal with it. I need God, and I need the people he has put in my life to help shape me in to a person that works better within the community.
Here are a few of my favorites that we own. What are your favorites?