Gimme a Beat

In addition to the traditional reading of books, we do a lot of storytelling in our house. It’s my fault, really. I tried it one evening before bedtime, and the kids liked it so much that I continued. Now I have several recurring characters, each with half a dozen or so stories, and more being created on the fly every week or so.

And, of course, the kids have gotten into the act as well. They both love to tell stories, not only about my characters, but also about characters they make up on their own.

Yesterday morning, my oldest took things to a whole new level. The two boys and I were finishing up breakfast. Well, actually, I had finished my breakfast. They were eating while I sat, chatted with them, and drummed idly on the table with my knuckles.

“Hey daddy,” my oldest said. “I have a story!”


“Once upon a time there were eighteen ladybugs, and as they sat on their branch and alligator swam up.”

“Uh-oh,” I stopped tapping on the table and leaned forward. “an alligator?”

“No, don’t stop!”


“Don’t stop.” He waved at me. “Gimme a beat!”

“Really? Okay.” I started tapping again, doing my best to put out a solid regular rhythm.

He listened for a few seconds and then started up his story again. This time, however, it was syncopated to my beat. As he talked, he swayed back and forth and his head nodded up and down.

His little brother stopped eating and tried to tap to the beat as well.

Pretty cool, huh?

Yes and no. I’m all for extemporaneous storytelling, but I don’t think I’m up to the challenge of doing it in time to a beat.

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