Summer reminds me of car trips when I was a kid and that reminds me of all the stories my mom used to make up for us as we travelled.
There was none of the electronic “babysitters” now available to keep kids in the back entertained.
Besides the many actual family conversations we had in the car and shared appreciation of the changing scenery, we all looked forward most to mom’s stories.
She made sure we knew all the usual stories for kids — Cinderella, Snow White, Three Little Pigs, etc. — with small but significant additions to keep it interesting.
For example, all animals in the stories talked, sometimes with accents to make it even more unique.
There was always some sort of success and a lesson learned by the characters in the story.
There was the one about the bear who had a zipper to take his fur off and wash it. The other bear kids teased him about his zipper but he was always proud to have it because he had the cleanest, shiniest fur any bear could have!
Here was a good lesson about self-esteem, even in the face of criticism — always a good message for kids to hear.
Then, there was the poor raccoon, teased by her peers because she had no stripes on her tail like all the other kids — her mommy painted some stripes on so she would fit in and made them green, explaining how she could start a new trend.
These were stories about young animals who “survived” their difficult childhoods by rising above it all to be successful in spite of having something different than others.
There was a bear that didn’t like water so he couldn’t fish (he built a new type of fishing pole and out-fished all his friends with it), a bird having trouble flying (so mommy bird hooked it up to balloons for a time to learn the feeling of flying), the bald eagle that wasn’t bald, the elephant who couldn’t trumpet, the deer with smaller antlers than his friends, a cat who liked mice as friends and wouldn’t eat them so she had to learn to like other food, the fish that couldn’t swim and had to have lessons and so many, many others.
All had a success in the end and a point made about surviving the sometimes brutal teasing of youth by making the most of ones differences so they don’t become lifelong handicaps.
To this day, I look at young animals (and people) differently than most.
The thought always passes through my mind that I am sure they can find an answer to offset any limitations they have.
Oh, and mom also used to have us find shapes in the clouds as we travelled.
Hers were always currant buns and I still feel a longing for a muffin when there are big fluffy clouds around!
My mom was a teacher — in the schools, in the community and in our hearts.
Colleen Crossley is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.