News Column

Grand Thoughts: Cultivating a family of natural-born storytellers

September 9, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 09--I am a storyteller. It's a trait I inherited from my father, who told stories to me as a child and also to my children and their friends as well. Most every birthday party we celebrated, my father entertained with one of his original and incredibly fun stories.

Though I have made up a few stories that I have repeated through the years, most are created on the spot. The main characters are, of course, my granddaughters, Tilleigh, 6, and Evie, 3. Sometimes the girls are fairies who live in our neighborhood but only come out at night. They bring beauty to our neighborhood by coloring the flowers, releasing lightning bugs, feeding the wild creatures and so forth.

In other stories, the girls are characters ranging from environmentalists to reporters to, yes, princesses. But in most every story, there is magic. We love magic.

My make-believe stories are always a big hit when we're in the car. One of their favorite is the "magic car" story. I'm the driver, of course, and the girls are fairies. It's our job to save characters who've been thrown out of their perspective books or TV shows. Using magic dust (Tilleigh's job), we pick up the characters -- Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella, Snow White, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" and many more -- and transport them to safety -- our home.

The car, by the way, magically lengthens (Evie's job) to accommodate the passengers, and morphs into an airplane when we're driving up to our homes on Signal Mountain. I'll often go out of the way to drive on the mountain's brow with a majestic view of the valley so that it really does give an illusion of being in an airplane. Sometimes the Wicked Witch from the West tries to get in our car, but the magic dust keeps her at bay.

By the time we reach our destination, we are often exhausted (we scream, loudly, when we almost miss getting someone in the car). It's a big job protecting these characters.

The girls make up stories, too. I have a Disney app that encourages children to create dialogue for characters in various settings. Tilleigh's finished product is entertaining (she also recently made a film with her aunt). Evie's are just plain funny.

With video being so readily available today on cameras and smartphones, I'm routinely documenting their plays and stories. And while it's great entertainment now, I know that many years from now, it's going to mean a lot to the girls.

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

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