The sleepy story teller

©2012 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved

‘Tell me a bedtime story, Mum’.

This has been the favourite chant of my kids ever since they were toddlers…I sometimes think that the first word they mastered (after mum and dad of course) was ‘story’. Now, after a hard day’s work, having changed nappies a zillion times, i often did not have the energy to hold a big, hard-cover book with the world’s best fairy tales or bed time stories and would instead suggest that i would tell them the story without actually referring to a book. Delighted at this suggestion, they would snuggle under their quilt and wait for this brilliant story to begin. Stifling many a yawn, i would ponder in my mind which story was best suited to keep me awake ( I do have a tendency to fall asleep while in the middle of recounting a riveting tale!). I would some times make up fairy stories ( these, of course, being for my daughters. My son would roll his eyes the moment he heard it was to be a fairy story, turn on his side and would  be snoring within seconds. Only a tale about soldiers and attacks could possibly entice him to stay up and listen). Running out of steam only moments after having begun the story ( I had, after all, like most mothers, had a long day), I would quickly mumble something inane like ‘and the fairies are flying outside the window this very moment, sprinkling gold dust and peeping in to makes sure all the good kids in the world are already asleep’. This weak conclusion to what had started out as a brilliant tale would lead to loud protests of ‘Mum, that’s not fair. That’s SUCH a short story’.

I remember one particular incident when my youngest one was only about two and didn’t really know the intricate details of each bedtime story (now of course, she will stop me in my tracks if i mix up any of the characters). At the end of a long, drawn-out day, she said ‘story  please Mum’ . Pulling the quilt right up to our chins, i began what i considered to be the story of ‘Goldilocks and the three Bears’. It began rather well…I was pleased at myself remembering the exact order of events. Sammy listened enthralled as i started telling about Papa Bear, Mamma Bear and Baby Bear deciding to go out for a morning wander, planning to come back home for breakfast. A few sentences into the story, i began with my first couple of yawns (oh oh !).  I stretched my eyes open and blinked a couple of times to make sure i would stay awake at least until the poor bears had returned home. Sammy looked at me suspiciously. Even at that tender age, she had begun to recognise the sad fact that her Mum often fell asleep in the middle of bedtime stories.

I continued the tale with a most heroic effort. All was going well. While the bears were out, Goldilocks made her appearance. A couple of more yawns later I was still managing to recount the story with finesse and accuracy. My eye lids though were now starting to shut and open again in a slow rhythmic pattern which warned me that i was dangerously close to falling asleep while telling the story. ‘Who’s been eating my porridge? growled Papa bear’ i said in a loud voice. Sammy looked delighted. Clever Mummy!  Such good impersonation of the bears ! By the time i came to the bit about baby bear whining ‘Who’s been eating my porridge?’, my voice was just a croak ( i was about to fall asleep !!!)….

And then, everything after that was a bit of a blur….I woke up in time to hear myself say ‘ And the big bad wolf ate up Little Red Riding Hood!”

There was a moment of  confused silence while Sammy stared me, all of two years old, with bewildered round eyes, and i stared up at the ceiling trying to figure out which story exactly i was recounting. Hadn’t i been telling the story of Goldilocks and the three bears? I could have sworn i was. How come, then, the big bad wolf had eaten Little Red Riding Hood??? When had they come into the story? Hold on….wasn’t that an entirely different story altogether?

I hugged Sammy and said in my sleepy voice ‘Wasn’t that a great story, darling? Good Night’. She had looked as though she wanted to point out that there was some confusion, but at two years of age, any story is a great story.

I cannot even begin to imagine getting away with this trick of mixing up two legendary bedtime stories now that the kids are much older. In fact just the other day, Sammy said to me ‘Mum, can you please tell me a bed time story? And can you PLEASE  not fall asleep while telling it???’