“Is that the end of the story?” asked Christopher Robin.”That’s the end of that one. There are others….
…Don’t you remember?…”
…”I do remember,” he said, “only Pooh doesn’t very well, so that’s why he likes having it told to him again. Because then it’s a real story and not just a remembering.” (Winnie the Pooh, A.A.Milne)
It’s the story of getting off the bus for the first time. It’s the story of new go-fast sneakers, and the story of picking the tomato, ripe off the vine, and eating it like an apple. It’s the story of making new friends, the story of chasing a soccer ball wildly across a field of clover. We’re making these stories, here, writing it out longhand, and this is for not just the remembering, but to see it woven in and out and through, to spin it gloriously and to offer it out, fragile like, in the palm of a hand to say, “See, this? This here? This.”
This. The other night, Renee had her very first ever soccer thing. It’s not a team, but a whole bunch of energetic three- and four-year-olds chasing after the soccer ball in semi-organized drill-like fashion for about an hour. Of course, she loves it, and has no fear, reports Mark, who took her that particular evening. That left me with a salty Grant who was disappointed to A) not be the child with the activity and B) be missing out on time with Daddy. Working through this disappointment together, we came up with a plan to enjoy the beautiful evening and take the bike out on the trail. Grant would ride; I would push Griffin in the stroller, and all would be well in the world. And it was. Tell me a time when some fresh air is NOT the answer. As we were doing our thing on the trail, Grant wants me to tell him the story again. And so I do.
The story that he wanted to hear is this: I was eight years old, riding bikes with my neighbor friend. My sister was mad at me for something (I’m sure I was just being my bossy usual self) and she was sulking in the yard. Now my house growing up was at the bottom of a particularly awesome hill, at the end of the cul-de-sac. Because of this, the driveway had a significant curb to prevent the rain water from flooding down it and then into our yard, or even worse, our basement. In my oh-so-awesome queen-of-the-world thinking as an eight year old, I figured that if riding slowly down the hill and then the curb resulted in one type of a bump, then the faster I could ride down the hill and hit the curb quickly, the less I would feel the bump. Or something like that. I pedaled, and pedaled, and leaned forward on the handlebars, until…. well, of course we know now that I was wrong. I know now that it meant I had less control and way more speed to do anything but fly off my bike, land in the driveway and skid across the gravel, with no more grace than a donkey on roller blades. My neighbor friend watched the whole thing, and I was a crying blood mess by the time she she got to me. She ran to my sister, imploring her to get the babysitter. And my sister, still licking her own wounded ego, would not help. (Let’s cut her some slack, here; she was young, and I’m sure I deserved whatever silent treatment she was doling out on me).
The reason I tell Grant this story has nothing to do with Tobin, and everything to do with the massive bloody mess that I made of my arm. I can still remember sitting on the kitchen counter, having the gravel picked out of my open skin. I wear no visible scar, but the story has obviously stuck with me. I tell this story to Grant because a week prior, out on that same trail we were on this particular evening, he was coasting down a hill as Mark and I were chatting from thirty yards behind him. He was there, and going, and then. And then we couldn’t see him anymore. We couldn’t see him, because he had lost control and careened into a pricker bush on the side of the trail. When Mark finally caught up to him, he was crying and embarrassed and only a little scraped up. He was frustrated. He didn’t want to get back on the bike. And I told him my story. Because the best part of the story is that I got back on my bike. I kept taking chances. I kept on riding, and having adventures, and trying to figure it all out as I went along.
And that is why we tell our stories. Because then they become real stories and not just a rememberings.