Originally published Feb. 27, 2013 7:00 p.m.
Have you ever noticed how kids love to tell stories? Sometimes the stories are completely true—other times they are, let’s say, embellished.
As a local TV meteorologist, I often have the opportunity to visit schools around the area and speak to kids of various ages. Sometimes they even come to the station for a tour. It never fails, especially with groups of younger kids, that they interpret my invitation to ask questions as an invitation for them to tell stories.
Just yesterday, I visited a group of second graders. They were very well behaved, and smart, too. They had lots of questions. Several times when I called on a student with their hand raised, I soon discovered that question time had turned into story time. By no means was that the first time that’s happened when I speak to a group of kids. Fortunately, at my last school talk, the teachers constantly reminded their students to ask questions, and refrain from telling stories.
My wife is a teacher, and we often talk about my adventures traveling to local schools or hosting tours of the TV station. Although our jobs are very different, that’s one area we can both relate to—kids telling stories! And it seems the younger the child is, the more often they enjoy telling stories.
So what is it that makes kids so bent on telling stories? I think part of it is that they are used to getting so much more attention than we adults are. When you’re little, the world pretty much caters to you—you depend on your parents for survival, your teachers constantly help you learn about new things and even discipline you, Santa Claus comes to town, and so does the Easter Bunny. But as you grow older, you soon realize you’re not the only person around. Also, I think that kids view anything that’s new or different as a monumental event—because they’re so young, they’re not always aware that their story may not be unique to them.
Maybe as adults, we should consider telling a few more stories (as long as they are truthful). We probably tend to think that no one is interested in our stories, but hopefully that’s not always true. In our fast-paced society, it’s easy to find yourself pretending to care about someone’s story with a quick nod and a “mmmm-hmmmm.” Maybe there’s something you might learn from someone else’s story—even a young child’s embellished one.
Growing up, I always noticed how my granddad would ask complete strangers a lot of questions about their lives. I wondered why he would do that, but looking back, he wasn’t being nosy or rude, but he really wanted to know more about the person and make them feel important. Sometimes the person he was talking to—maybe a waiter or waitress—had really interesting stories to tell.
Usually when I’m speaking to kids, I don’t spend much time responding to stories, simply because I’m there—for a few short moments—to teach them about the weather. But occasionally, one of their stories will prompt me to mention something weather-related that I might have otherwise forgotten to tell them.
Maybe take a moment in the next week or so to really listen to somebody’s story. It may make for a more interesting conversation, or you may learn something new!