Ethan and I were uprooting juniper bushes, river rock, and a failed weed barrier, from the backyard to make way for a garden next spring. Along the way, he decided to tell me a story. Then he gave a title for a story to tell him. Back and forth we went. No doubt influenced by the book The Penguin that Hated the Cold, his story titles were always about something not wanting to do what it normally would. He told me tales like, “The Grass that Didn’t Want to Get Stepped On” and “The Shovel that Didn’t Want to Dig”.
During my turns at storytelling, I took advantage of his attentive ear to develop themes on the different ways that the problems of discontentment can play out. In “The Lawn Mower that Didn’t Like Spinning Blades”, its wise owner help it see its potential. The “The Excavator that Didn’t Like Dirt”, however, had no mentor, and it ended up freezing in the winter because it never dug the foundation for its house. In a piece of historical fiction, “The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Like Eating Meat” was happy when he learned that he lived at a time when God meant for him to only eat plants.
Regardless of who was storytelling, all the characters could talk. For my stories, Ethan named the characters. Whereas for me coming up with names is difficult and time consuming, for Ethan it was effortless. It was the same way with the story titles; he could instantly come up a new title at any time.
To me, these are one-time stories, coming and going with the wind, leaving no opportunity to retell or talk about them, because I can barely remember them. It’s not so with Ethan. I had long forgotten my telling of the “The Rope That Didn’t Want to Pull Out Junipers”, who had a good heart, but who just wasn’t strong enough for the job the farmer asked of it, and finally helped the farmer see where he could be properly used. I only remembered the story because a week later, out of the blue, Ethan told me about how happy he was for the rope. It reminds me how much I look forward to Ethan finding his proper place as he develops his own life story.