In Part 7, I told the story of the huge tree that almost fell over on our neighbor’s house. The Fire Chief in his big red fire truck, and the Tree Man in his cherry picker truck added plenty of real life drama.
My storytelling typically happens at lunchtime. Children keep an eye on the clock, because they know at 12:30, Jennie will tell a story. The complex act of reading an analog clock is a side benefit. When the big hand on the clock reaches the 6, the chant begins: Jen-nie-stor-y. Sometimes this chant is accompanied by fist-banging on the table to each beat.
While a Jennie Story, which is a true story, begins with “It happened like this”, occasionally I surprise children by starting a story with “Once upon a time.” Typically I will then tell a fairy tale. The Little Red Hen is a favorite.
I will close this series of Teacher Stories with one last favorite Jennie Story,
The Bird Story
“It happened like this.” All my daughter wanted for Christmas was a bird, a soft green bird like the ones she had seen at the pet store. She wanted to touch and stroke the bird’s feathers. She wanted the bird to sit on her finger. She called it ‘finger training’. As Christmas was soon approaching, she was as good as gold. So was her letter to Santa. And on Christmas Eve, we all hoped and wished that Santa would bring her a bird.
Christmas morning finally arrived. Chirps! She heard chirps, ran downstairs, and there was a bird in a cage. He was beautiful. He was green, and he looked so soft.
She carefully opened the cage and touched his feathers. Then she slowly put her finger into the cage. The bird hopped on and she pulled the bird on her finger out of the cage. Just as she touched his soft, green feathers, the bird flew away. It was hard to get him back into the cage.
We needed a better plan. I called the pet store.
“The bird keeps fluttering and flying away. What can we do?”
“Bring the bird in to the store. We’ll trim the tip end of the feathers on his wings so he won’t be able to fly away. It doesn’t hurt the bird at all.”
Great idea! The pet store trimmed the wing feathers, and we had the perfect spot for ‘finger training’ – the bathroom! The bird would be safe, no place to fly away. So, we closed the toilet lid and closed the door. I went downstairs to make dinner. A few minutes later my daughter screamed, the kind of scream that meant something was really bad. I ran upstairs and opened the bathroom door.
“What’s wrong? Where’s the bird?”
The bird had discovered a small round hole in the baseboard under the sink. He poked his head in the hole and fell in. The bird was trapped under the floor. Even worse, he couldn’t fly up to get out of the hole since his wing feathers had been trimmed.
I called the pet store.
“Put a chain down the hole so the bird can climb back up. Put food and water and light down the hole. Hopefully the bird will come to eat and drink, see the chain, and climb up to get out.”
We got the right sized chain from the hardware store and hung it down the hole. Then we tied a mini flashlight to a string and lowered it down the hole. Next we threw birdseed and water down the hole.
And we waited and waited.
Nothing happened for days. Everyone was worried. Sometimes we heard chirps, but the bird did not come. Our house was old, so the space between the downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floor was big. What was the bird doing? Maybe he met other animals. Maybe there were fireflies and ants and beetles down there, perhaps an entire village. Maybe the bird made new friends and did not want to come back.
Eight days went by, and no bird. The chirping had stopped. My daughter said, “I think he’s lonely for other birds. We should play bird sounds for him so he’ll climb up the chain out of the hole.”
We went to the music store and got a record of bird sounds. Then we set up the little record player in the bathroom right beside the hole. Everyone held their breath as we played the music. A few minutes later the chain started to move. The bird poked his head out of the hole. He climbed out! As he fluttered everywhere, we all cried a little and smiled a lot. Especially my daughter.