Friday, March 8, 2013

Stories for Emma

Adam C. Zern shares some thoughts on parenting, reading, and his oldest daughter:

"Emma, my oldest daughter, will periodically ask me to tell her a story.  What follows is usually a frenetic re-interpretation of childhood events with as much hyperbole as my listeners can bear.  After sheer delight, Emma often asks me in her uniquely sober way: 'Dad, is that true?'  I'll often shrug my shoulders and begin the next epic adventure describing how the young Adam C. Zern caught violent Alligators and conquered his world. 

Emma is my reader.  Each night we have to remind her to turn off her bed lamp since she is too absorbed in her reading to realize that the five-minute limit has passed.  Perhaps one of the most sweetly fulfilling moments I've had as a parent was when Emma asked: 'Do you want to read your book in my room, and I can read my book too?'  I sat on the floor as she lay on her top bunk.  I think the only words that were exchanged between the two of us during that hour period were 'I love you' and 'I love you too.'  And I'll never forget it.

I, like Emma, wish Pokémon were real.  I live and breathe stories and am bored by entertainment that doesn't tell me a good story.  I love characters and feelings.  I, like Emma, love to make-believe.  I still see in my head what Emma no doubt parades around in her imaginations.  It is the substance of things not seen with our eyes but felt in our hearts.  Emma once cried when we told her that Pokémon weren't real.  With wobbly confidence, she asserted, mostly to herself rather than to us: 'If Pokémon aren't real in our world, they're probably real on another planet.'  If I remember correctly, my wife and I responded that the universe is a very big place and left it at that.  For Emma's sake, I want Pokémon to be real—somewhere else, somewhere exotic.  If they're not, I pray the story will suffice.  I know from personal experience, stories don't have to lose their potency when one becomes more rational and cynical.

With my eye of faith, I see Emma cradling books and stories as well as her own children when she becomes an adult.  When her children ask her to tell them a tale she better fill it with imagination, hyperbole, feelings, and character; in other words, I hope she tells stories so they fall in love with stories the way she did and the way I did.  For my Emma's sake, for her children's sake, I'll continue to indulge in stories and hope for somewhere else, somewhere exotic where it all might be true."

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