By Ginger Truitt
We had been warned by the school counselor not to do it the first year of college because it could emotionally scar our daughter. But she is now wrapping up her second year, and will be doing an international internship for the entire summer. So we decided it is time to store away her belongings, and hand down her bedroom. Younger sister, age 6, has been anxiously awaiting this day. Sharing a room with little brother just isn’t her thing anymore.
As we sorted through the closet, I found a bag of cassette tapes. Many of them are recordings by the phenomenal story tellerJim Weiss. When my big kids were little, they loved listening to these tapes at bedtime. There is even one specifically purposed to soothe into a state of peaceful sleep.
I wondered out loud, “Do we still have a cassette player around here?”
Six-year-old daughter overheard my pondering, and responded, “What’s that?”
I showed her the tapes, and tried to explain how they work. Having been the proud owner of an MP3 player since her 5th birthday, she was completely stymied.
Slowly turning a tape over in her hands, she asked, “So, where do you plug in the headphones?”
Sighing, I dug deeper into the closet and pulled out an old, royal blue cassette player; a behemoth by today’s standards. I gathered my two youngest children around, and showed them how it works. They were fascinated. They have spent hours fast forwarding, rewinding and pausing, but were most excited about flipping the tapes over to listen to the other side.
That night, they slept in their own rooms for the first time. To resolve the argument over who should get to listen to the bedtime stories, I placed the cassette player in the hallway and turned up the volume. Jim Weiss painted a soothing picture of a creekside cottage with a comfy chair and shelves full of fascinating books. I have no idea how long the kids listened, but I was asleep in no time flat.
When hubby arrived home from his business trip Saturday evening, the first words out of 5-year-old son’s mouth were, “You got to see this thing mommy gave us!”
He continued, explaining emphatically, “There’s no pictures or anything! You just listen to it, and use your ‘magination. And sometimes you get to flip the tape over to hear the rest of the story!”
His enthusiasm reminded me of a time when my now 18-year-old son was excited about bedtime stories on tape. I thought I would introduce him to the amazing voice of Garrison Keillor. It hadn’t occurred to me that it might not be age appropriate. Twenty minutes after being tucked in, he came screaming down the stairs. I had forgotten about that part where Keillor describes a young boy being buried alive. That is what we call a mommy fail.
I visited Jim Weiss’ website to see if he had recorded any new stories in the past decade. I was not surprised, but still slightly saddened, that they are only available on CD. I was, however, thrilled that they are listed according to age appropriateness. I don’t think I’ve damaged my big kids too horribly, but when it comes to parenting, I’ll take all the help I can get.
Ginger is an author, speaker and mother of five. Find her on Facebook (Ginger Truitt-Author), Twitter (@GingerTruitt), and Pinterest. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.