We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The story of Whistling Wind

I'm on a roll with the parenting books at the moment. I know I said I was going to talk about the Faber and Mazlish books I mentioned last entry - and I still am, but I have something else to share today. The boys are both sick and sleeping in the middle of the day - I am three weeks into my course and already a week behind... should be using this time to catch up... but...

I scored a great book on ebay last week - one I have been really hoping to get at a reasonable price: Susan Perrow's Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour. Basically, it shows in a very practical way how to nudge children towards better behaviour by telling them a story! There are lots of different stories there - for almost every situation you can imagine - and best of all there is advice and ideas for creating your own stories - even if you are not a creative person to start with.

I love it! I'm only half way through, but when I sat down to study this afternoon, I found myself writing a story for Wombat instead. Being sick is really getting him down. He won't take any medicine - even refuses a spoonful of honey - and when I got him to eat a banana this morning, it came straight back up again. The only treatment he will accept is hugs - and he wants them constantly - "Hug me forever, Mummy!" You can imagine that with Munchkin sick too, that is rather difficult for me to do!

So I wrote this story:

Once upon a time, when stories were real and dreams still came true, there was a wind. A mischievous little wind who liked to make other people feel sad, and her name was Whistling wind.

Whistling wind had a song she liked to sing. It went like this:

"Blow, blow, worry and woe
slow, slow, soft and low
Down your cheeks the tears will flow."

I don't know why Whistling wind liked to make other people feel miserable, but everywhere she went, she sang her mournful song.

One day Whistling wind was blowing through the long grass in a field when she saw a little mouse. He was lying on his back, looking up at the clouds and the daisies waving above him, and he seemed to be very contented.

"Hmmmm," thought Whistling wind. "Goody! Here is someone that I can sing my song too!"

So she did.

"Blow, blow, worry and woe
slow, slow, soft and low
Down your cheeks the tears will flow."

Little mouse heard the song, but he didn't know who was singing it. "What a strange song," he thought. "It makes me feel a little bit unhappy!" And he pulled his eyebrows together into a tiny frown.

"Aha!" thought Whistling wind. "It's working. I'll sing my song and blow even harder now!"

So she did.

Looking up at the clouds, Little Mouse heard Whistling Wind's song. Suddenly, he saw a cloud that looked a little bit like his Mummy Mouse. Normally that would have made him feel very happy, but not while Whistling Wind's song was in his ears.

"Blow, blow,
worry and woe
slow, slow, soft and low
Down your cheeks the tears will flow."

Little Mouse started to cry.

"Mummy's always so busy. She's always running around cleaning the mousehole, or collecting seeds for us to eat, or looking after the baby mice..." (Little Mouse had
lots of little brothers and sisters.) "Mummy Mouse never has time for me anymore," sobbed Little Mouse. "I don't think she loves me like she used to when I was a baby

Well, Whistling wind felt very proud of herself for having made Little Mouse feels so sad, so she danced a little whirling windy dance to herself, down among the grasses and then up up up into the clouds. While she was dancing among the clouds, she whirled one of them around into her dance. It just happened to be the cloud that looked like Mummy Mouse, and it had been covering the sun. As soon as the cloud moved to join Whistling Wind in her dance, the sun popped out with a warm happy "peekaboo!"

Little Mouse looked up with tears streaming down his cheeks. He was still feeling very sad and lonely but the warm glow of the sun started to make him feel much better. He remembered how warm and lovely it felt when Mummy Mouse smiled at him. He remembered how good he felt when he did something kind and helpful and Mummy Mouse said thank you. He remembered that even though Mummy Mouse sometimes got a little bit grumpy if he did something wrong, she always forgave him when he said he was sorry.

Suddenly, Little Mouse jumped up with a big smile on his face. "I know what I am going to do," he thought.

Creeping through the grass, Little Mouse made his way quietly back to the mousehole.

Whistling Wind looked down from the sky, feeling a bit confused. She didn't know what was happening, so she decided to watch carefully and see.

There was Mummy Mouse, sweeping and swooshing the dust out of the mousehole. She looked very busy and very tired. Behind her, Whistling Wind could hear all the little baby mice crying and calling.

"I don't need to do anything here," thought Whistling Wind. "Mummy Mouse looks like she's going to start crying soon too, without any help from me!"

Then Whistling Wind saw Little Mouse creeping through the door.

"Oh good, thought Whistling Wind. "He's going to start complaining too. That will definitely make Mummy Mouse start to cry." But Little Mouse didn't.

On soft little mousey feet, Little Mouse crept over to the baby mice. "Shhhhhhh," he whispered. "Mummy's busy, but I am here. Now what's the matter?"

The baby mice were so surprised to see their big brother mouse that they all stopped crying.

"We want Mummy!" they squeaked.

Little Mouse thought. Then he had a good idea. He cuddled up next to the baby mice and said "I know I'm not Mummy, but maybe if I tell you a story, it will make the time go quicker while she finishes her jobs. Is that ok?"

"Yes please!" squeaked the baby mice, "and could you sing us a song as well?"

"Of course," said Little Mouse.

So he did.

When Mummy Mouse finished sweeping, she came inside wondering why all the baby mice
were being so quiet and good. She saw Little Mouse with all his baby brothers and sisters curled up around him, snuggling together as they listened to his story.

"Thank you, darling Little Mouse," said Mummy Mouse, and she gave him the biggest, warmest most loving hug that he could imagine.

"Little Mouse looked after us!" said the baby mice.

"I know," said Mummy Mouse, "and that makes me very very happy."

Well, you can imagine how disappointed Whistling Wind was when she heard that! She took a deep breath and got ready to sing her sad song.

But then, she looked again at the little mousehole with all the happy baby mice clustered around their Mummy and she saw Little Mouse, with a big smile on his whiskers, and she thought "Hmmmmm. I'm tired of making everyone feel sad. I think it's time I sang a different song."

So she did.

"Laugh and be happy,
it's no fun to be sad.
Smile and be cheerful
and you'll make others glad!"

As she sang, Whistling Wind started to feel a little tickle at the corners of her mouth, so she sang her new song again.

"Laugh and be happy,
it's no fun to be sad.
Smile and be cheerful
and you'll make others glad!"

This time, the tickle turned into a giggle and before she knew it, Whistling Wind was
roaring with laughter. The sun started to smile too, and all the clouds did their best to make happy shapes as they swam across the sky.

"Hey," thought Whistling Wind. "That feels REALLY good! I don't think I am going to
sing my old sad song ever again. From now on, I am only going to sing my wonderful new song, and wherever I blow, I am going to make everyone feel happy."

So she did.


They both just woke up, so my apologies for any rough areas... it was written really quickly... but you get the idea. I'll let you know how it goes! Right now, I'd better go see if I can tempt them with some lunch :D


Quick notes based on first telling:

  • too much negativity in first part - only sing the sad song twice - three times is too much; sing the happy song three times!
  • middle line of sad song is uneccessary; works better without it!
  • too much detail in Little Mouse's introspection; cut back & make less obviously self-referential
  • Also more detail in middle part - have Little Mouse help a few other people before his mum - say a turned-over beetle and a bent flower stem?
  • Put more details into the story and song Little Mouse tells to his siblings - and make them happy magical sparkling details. Remember aim of story is cheering up, with secondary idea of being helpful to make others happy too, so increase balance of positive to negative otherwise it's a bit of a downer and too transparent in its efforts to get the child onside.
  • Things that worked? the sun - particularly the 'peekaboo'... Mummy Mouse's hug... and the happy song... but the ending fell a little flat - too obviously didactic?
  • So Whistling wind whooshed off hither and thither and everyone who heard her song danced through their day with a happy heart - show, don't tell!


Final conclusions?

Too moralistic (lecturing)... instead, needs to be moral (inspiring)...

Really two stories here - Whistling Wind Changes Her Tune and Little Mouse Learns To Help. Separate them and each one will become stronger. Introduce more surprising/unexpected moments. Work at keeping the tone light and upbeat, even in the 'sad' parts.

1 comment:

Steff said...

beautiful - I am lucky when my girls are sick all they want to do is watch videos and go to bed - sending up videos for poor sick little boys