For once I would like to know the ending to one of my six-year-old’s stories.
She comes home from school with the most amazing anecdotes. They have all the elements of great yarns—comedy, tragedy, interesting characters. Her delivery is punctuated with “ums” and “uhs” that only serve to propel the building tension to its supposed conclusion.
Many times she will merge two different narratives into one glorifying epic that leaves me breathless with anticipation. But more often that not, I am left to my own devices when it comes to the outcome of these dramatic sagas.
Like any good storyteller, she reels me in with a great opening: “Mom, guess what happened at school today?” (Sorry, Charles Dickens, I am a mother anxious to glean any information from my child, so this rivals, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”).
“What?” I say encouragingly.
“We were at PE and Mrs. Philips—the PE teacher—told us to get into line … then … um … then Will cut Anthony in line. Then … um … Anthony pushed Will … and … uh … then Natalie started crying and we were all saying stop, stop … and you know, I thought my glasses broke, but it wasn’t my fault.”
“Wait!” I say backtracking. “Did you get pushed? Is that how your glasses broke?”
“No … um … they didn’t really break, but Mr. N told me when I was looking at this thing on the blacktop … um … to go to the office so they could check them.”
“Who is Mr. N?”
“Oh, just this guy.”
By now I am mentally biting my nails. Whatever happened to Will and Anthony? What exactly made Natalie cry? What made her think her glasses had broken? What was this thing on the blacktop that caught her attention and who is this mysterious Mr. N?
Suddenly distracted, she points outside. “Look mom a squirrel!” And she’s gone.
It will be impossible to have her revisit the subject now that she’s lost interest. So once again, I am left hanging onto the anti-climatic edge of my seat.
By Tania Malik
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