I Need A New Bum…

It is important to read and tell stories to children

Family Day in Alberta is coming this month. I think back to my younger days as a father of 3 young children. At one point, they were all under two years old. Yes, one set of twins in that group.

During the phase of reading them stories before bed, The Three Little Pigs was their favourite. “Once Upon a Time,” and we were off to Joyville. Unfortunately, after many months of repeatedly telling this story to them, I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a change, but my small audience was adamant. Nothing else would do. So I offered them something better. I asked them if they wanted to hear about Sniffles. With puzzled looks, they couldn’t contain themselves and wanted to know all about Sniffles.

I made up this character right on the spot. I never bothered to explain who Sniffles was or what it looked like. In fact, despite their best efforts, I still haven’t told them several decades later.

Sniffles worked as a sort of part-time police person. He, She or It was born with a sensitive nose. He could literally smell one kernel of popcorn from miles away. The police would hide a kernel of popcorn in a bag of money. Then when it was eventually stolen, Sniffles came to the rescue, followed the scent and helped the police catch the bad person. This was just one of several characters I invented to avoid visiting those 3 pigs.

Looking back both as an older adult and a senior, I realized what the kids remember years later. The storyline was memorable. More importantly, we were together. There was the feeling of being glued to the telling of the story, of visualizing the make-believe world, oh, the hugs at the end, the kisses good night, and settling into a good night’s sleep. During the intervening years, never have they complained or even mentioned the plausibility of the stories. Not necessary in the child’s world.

So now, let’s return to this bum thing noted so boldly in the Title. I saw this YouTube video of a Scottish granny reading this story to her presumed young grandson. They both were so engrossed in the activity.

I realized that the art of storytelling might be fading a bit. Screen-time before bed is an easier alternative. As older adults and seniors, we can make a difference. Maybe not in the whole world but certainly in our world. If we can touch it, we can change it.

This Family Day put a young child on your lap and tell the story of Sniffles. Don’t be surprised if you get asked to tell it over and over. Thankfully you can make up your own adventures to keep them entertained.

Go ahead, give it a click: I Need a New Bum, as by the Stcottish Grandma.

My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley