Damian's story
7 April 2002
Damian plucks my book out of my hands. "Do you want me to read that to you?" I ask. Because sometimes he does. He claims to enjoy the sound of the long, complex passages of an adult book but I think what he enjoys is a chance to feel included in my world. But this time he has a different agenda: "I’m going to read this book to Mommy."

I sit back, amused. "Sounds good." I wait.

"What’s the book about?"

I start to tell him, but he interrupts, "It’s a book about Mommy."

Ah. Okay.

He flips open the book, looks at the page as if reading, and commences storytelling. Here, then is his story:

    Once there was Mommy. Suddenly Mommy fell down. Mommy got hurt. Mommy went to the doctor. The doctor made Mommy better. Then Mommy left the doctor’s waiting room. Mommy gave her boy a hug.

    The end.

I swear to you, I did not contribute to this story in any way except to occasionally ask, "What happened then?" The rest was his. Damian’s first fully imagined story. He’s been telling stories for over a month but before this one, they were all simple recitations of what was in fact happening in that moment: "One morning there was salad. Someone ate the salad." Etc. This is a cognitive leap, a true story.

In the few weeks since he first told this story, I’ve probably heard it a dozen times (with minor variants: Mommy goes to the doctor in an ambulance, Mommy waits in the waiting room, etc.). And he hasn’t told any more stories, at least not without external cues: he’ll tell the story of the game we’re playing as he acts it out, but he won’t see pictures in his head and tell of that. But I’m not worried. It’s an evolution, not an instantaneous change. This first story is a sign of all sorts of things going on in his brain, a sign that we’re heading in the right direction, that he’s expanding his creative, symbolic thinking. All good.

Besides, in his story Mommy gets well and hugs her son close. What can be better than that?

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copyright 2002 Tamar