One of the several experiences that I am currently undergoing as a grandfather to two munchkins- one 5 years and the second 3 years old- is to rediscover the lost art of bedtime story telling. For one, I neither very distinctly recall stories heard by me as a child from my parents and grandparents and secondly whatever vague idea I have had of those stories, the same doesn’t appear to be of much relevance to today’s generation. When the two of them insisted that every night I spent some time with them in their bed telling them a story before retiring to my room, it left me with no option but to scratch my brains to not only to cater to their demand but keep them sufficiently interested in my narrative. I thought it best to concoct stories based on the things that received their utmost attention. This helped me in focusing on two major themes- wildlife, as our recent visit to famous Kruger National Park had aroused their great interest in wild animals and travel, as their aunty ( baby sitter employed to look after the two naughty boys) had to travel on an emergency to her native town in Zimbabwe and this aspect of crossing the border really fuelled their imagination.
Stories may read very naive and preposterous, but isn’t that how tales told to very young children should be? I would like to present these 2-3 concoctions in one of my future blogs, but as I proceed for journey back home after spending quality time spread over a little more than 2 months with them, I can only say that while my muscles and bones ache and physically I feel tired, mentally I feel totally refreshed and energised like I was as a child. Giving them shoulder rides, horse rides etc might have taken toll on my body, but these playful activities and especially the bedtime story telling by creating stories impromptu, surely rekindled childlike spirit in this sexagenarian.
Like always, leaving Johannesburg is an experience tinged with a bit of sadness, which is more pronounced this time as I have never stayed there this long. Every visit is a different experience in tandem with the growth and development of these kids and the next visit may again provide a different experience, but it will never be an encore of the previous visits.