Telling tales

Mum lives about an hour’s drive away. It’s an easy drive, along motorways and freeways, but monotonous, particularly for small passengers. To pass the time last weekend I suggested we take turns telling a story, with each person taking up the tale where the last one left off.

In fact we had time for half a dozen stories in the two hours there and back, featuring such things as giant hairy flying cucumbers, pink elephants that turned into long-lost brothers and cows who were “dairy godmothers”. I believe that pun was snitched from a real story but it gave me a good laugh at the time.

It was fascinating to hear what each duckling came up with and observe their different personalities at work. Demon Duck, our little perfectionist, was very hesitant. A couple of times she got carried away by the story, but mostly she had a very quick go before passing the responsibility on to her sister. I think she was afraid of “getting it wrong”.

Drama Duck, otherwise known as “Little Miss Talk Underwater”, was in her element. Her turns were very long and inventive, and long after her brother and sister had dropped out of the game she was still eager to continue.

Baby Duck surprised me. He eventually got bored – he is only six, after all – but his efforts were quite creative and coherent. Once I thought he’d gone off into a different story altogether, but he brought it back around and tied it into the main thread. He’d only introduced a different point of view. And his grasp of storytelling conventions was quite firm. When it was his turn to start a new story he began:

“Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away … there lived a little lizard named Fred.”

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