For quite a long time now, there’s been a tradition in our house that after the boy’s teeth are brushed, his pajamas on, and his last book read, he gets to have a story. These stories, by no decision of my own, involve a snail named Steve and his lizard friend, Larry.
I know. Like I said: not my fault.
Anyway, the nightly adventures of Steve the Snail and Larry the Lizard usually involve Steve and Larry learning some important life lesson: some lesson that our son, almost invariably, failed to comprehend earlier in the day. Thus, if the young master didn’t do an adequate job of sharing with his little sister, Steve and Larry find themselves needing to share. I’m not sure that the lad has noticed the correlation.
It’s been very interesting over time to see his reaction to these stories change: from smiles of wonder to thoughtful introspection. Recently he’s started commenting on the story, adding to it after its done or providing a playback of what he found most interesting. It’s quite wonderful.
In tonight’s story, for instance, Steve the Snail and Larry the Lizard were walking down the sidewalk when Steve found a penny. Walking on, Steve found another. Noting that he now had two pennies while Larry had none, Steve decided to give one of his pennies with his friend. They each now had one penny, and this made them both very happy.
After hearing this, my son thought on the story for a good 30 seconds or so. “I don’t have a penny,” he said.
“Yes, you do,” I gently corrected. “You have pennies in the Jeep bank.” (His granddad made him an awesome “piggy” bank that looks like a Jeep; the young master loves it.)
“Oh!” he whispered. Then he thought some more. “Pennies, um, carried by birds.”
“Birds?” I asked.
“Bird dropped the penny” — he lifted his arms and dropped them down toward the bed — “fell from the sky and boom!” — at this his arms hit the bed dramatically — “Penny hit the sidewalk and bounced and Steve caught it.”
He nodded once more, confident that he’d figured it out. Then, as he snuggled up into my shoulder, it was my turn to smile in wonder: wonder at my boy, wonder at my life, and wonder at a snail catching pennies dropped by birds. It is, after all, a far better story.