The Bat Story
“It happened like this… when I was a little girl I loved to ride my bike. It was red, and I rode it everywhere. I’d pack a bologna sandwich in a paper bag and head off to ride my bike all day. At lunch I’d stop in the Rose Garden at Ritter Park. Then I would ride up Whitaker Hill which was very steep and curvy. Later in the afternoon I’d ride my bike home. Now, my mother always told me to put my bike into the garage, and to put the garage door down. In those days, there were no garage door openers. I had to reach up and grab the handle, and then pull the door down. But, I had to remember to hold the garage door all the way down, or else it would bounce back up just a little.
One day I went bike riding. It was a beautiful day. I packed my lunch and headed off. Ritter Park was full of roses and the ride up Whitaker Hill was a hard one. Then I realized it was getting late and time to go home. I rode my bike into the driveway and remembered my mother’s words, “Put your bike in the garage.” I did that. Then I remembered, “Put the garage door down.” So I reached up high and pulled the garage down. Nothing more.
I went in the house and my mother asked, ( I say her questions with a pointed finger) “Did you put your bike in the garage?” I shook my head yes. “Did you put the garage door down?” I shook my head yes. “All the way down?” Another nodding yes. Uh-oh. “Wash your hands for dinner.” We ate dinner, then I played Monopoly with my brother (he always beat me), then Go Fish. My mother said, “Time for bed.”
I walked to the front stairway to go upstairs to bed. Just when I was ready to step onto the first stair, I saw something black go by. It was so fast. I wondered what it was. But, in a second it was gone. So, I went upstairs to go to bed, up to the second floor, and then to the third floor. My bedroom was on the third floor. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, put on my nightgown, got into bed, and pulled up the covers. I fell asleep. It was ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, and then midnight (this is where I get nervous and worried, and children know something is about to happen).
Suddenly I heard the two sounds I hated more than anything. One went ‘shhhoooo’. The other went ‘flap flap flap’. I knew it was a bat! I yelled, “Dad!” In a second I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. It was my dad. He threw open the door and jumped into the room with a tennis racquet. He bopped the bat…. and he was wearing his underwear (peals of laughter)! After that, I always remembered to put the garage door all the way down.”
Even though this popular story ends in underwear (only two stories do), the language and description is important, because children are hearing the words without a visual context. They are forced to make the picture in their heads, and therefore have to rely upon the language. That is such a big part of reading readiness. Tell your stories! More Jennie stories to come. By the way, I can barely eat a bite of my sandwich at lunchtime this summer. Children are begging for my stories, and I know I am giving them the best dose of reading readiness. Life is good!