Came across this article I wrote a while back. It’s worthy of sharing again, I think!
I hope my grandchildren will always be able to imagine many perspectives of the same situation, that they learn not to be judgmental, and that they learn to consider many possibilities. Quite simply, I hope they remain the creative thinkers that they are born to be. And I hope that one day my grandchild tells the story of “The Dirty Kitchen” revealing how her Nana is incredibly amazing and creative. I hope that the idea that her Nana might be a slob doesn’t even cross her mind. Storytelling is the key to this one and it goes a bit like this:
Once upon a time there was a very dirty kitchen. “Oh my!” the kitchen cried out as they watched their homeowner slip out the door balancing a baby shower cake, “she left us! We are the messiest dirtiest stickiest kitchen ever!”
“We need help,” announced the pots and pans in a very tinny sort of voice.
They opened the window and the faeries flew in exclaiming, “We’ll help!”
“Is our homeowner a slob?” asked the teeniest tiny of the sticky forks.
“No, no,” answered the faeries, “she’s been very busy with making things and with people and workshops and, topping it off, with making a fancy dancy baby shower cake.. well, she just hasn’t had time to clean you up.”
“I’m happy to be part of her fun and imagination and creative play!” admits the icing coated counter top. The rest of the kitchen, including the dirty dusty dog print covered floor, cheers.
And so the faeries with a wave of their wand fill the sink with soapy warm water. The gluey gooey pot leaps in and does a little jig that sounds like this: kaswish kaswoosh. The faeries rinse him off and magically dry him and plop he finds his place in the cupboard.
The story does go on and on as each character in the kitchen gets swept, washed, or wiped with the grand finale that the homeowner comes home, with her little granddaughter in tow, to find a lovely clean kitchen.
Easy to guess how this story began. Even I was a bit shocked when I looked at my kitchen as my granddaughter said, “oh, the kitchen is very dirty.” Pretty bad when a 3 year old notices. I could have succumbed to feeling like an incompetent housekeeper, but the more valuable and truthful perspective was that I had in fact pulled off some wonderful things in just a couple of days. I admit I was partially inspired by not wanting her to tell everyone “My Nana has a very dirty kitchen” in the same way she told EVERYONE “My Nana smashed into Auntie’s car.” I thought it would be better for my granddaughter to consider how the kitchen came to be so dirty and our storytelling adventure of “The Dirty Kitchen” evolved. In creating the story together I’d asked my granddaughter “why was the homeowner soooo busy that she didn’t get to clean the kitchen?’ It was a joy to watch her think that through and name all the things her Nana does. The story inspired both of us to clean the kitchen and it has since become one of her favourite bedtime stories at Nana’s house.
Storytelling is a great way to introduce new perspectives that focus on ‘what’s right’ instead of ‘what’s wrong’, encourage imagination and of course, feel better about a dirty kitchen. All you have to do is say “Once upon a time there was (include topic)” and whisper to your child, “what happens next?”
by Janet L Whitehead – copyright 2012, 2017