The girl stands at the top of the stairs. She hears gunshots. She hears screams. There’s a lot of talking and then she hears gasps and groans and nice, gentle music. It’s getting cold (she told Dada she didn’t want to wear her footie pajamas that night), but still she crouches there. Listening.
Intrigued. Confused. More than a little frightened.
Eventually, the blare of the television cuts off and Mama mutters, “Did you hear something…?” In a louder voice, “Moira?”
It amazes me that this scene doesn’t repeat every night that my husband and I ignore our grownup responsibilities and lose ourselves in the binge-worthy show of the moment. Clearly we prioritize a damn good story over much-needed sleep. How can we expect a six-year-old resist what we cannot?
This holiday break, my daughter has been pushing at the limits of story.
She was intrigued by the intricate packaging and lush images in the Outlander boxset that waited for me under the tree. She can’t understand why she can listen to our vintage 70s record of The Hobbit but can’t stay up with Dada to see the movie. And she’ll be in mourning about the absolute “no” she’s getting about seeing Star Wars in the theater.
We tell her that we set these limits because we love her. We tell her how wonderful these stories will be when she’s ready. (Yes, husband and I are already having lots of debates about when she’s ready to read Outlander!) We go to her overflowing shelves and pick dozens of stories that are perfect for who she is right now.
Boundaries are blessings, but I feel every bit of her longing and her frustration.
Certainly, when it comes to stories, we have no self control. Humans are the storytelling animal. None of us can stop ourselves.