The Art of Storytelling; or, Shit-Stirring

We tell stories every day of our lives. Sometimes they’re more fanciful than others. Sometimes they’re outright lies.

Or in my family, it’s general shit-stirring.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was visiting my brother and his family. My niece, who is generally the most well-behaved girl in school, has started acting up a little and even got a note sent home from her teacher. I was talking to her about it, and before I knew it started telling her that if she didn’t get back on track Santa wouldn’t be bringing her any presents.

In fact, not only that, he would kidnap her and take her to Santa’s Reform School for Bad Girls where she would never be allowed to wear pink again (she thinks she’s a princess, so this is a fate worse than death) and would be forced to wear grey. When she pointed out that she was wearing a grey cardigan that day, I told her it was her mother trying to prepare her for the eventuality of reform school.

She was on the cusp of believing me, her eyes wide and fearful, until my mother swooped in and told me I was being silly.

Bloody grandmothers. As mothers to their own children they spend years tormenting them, then completely mollycoddle the next generation.

After all, this is the woman who used to tell us when we were kids that the wind howling at night was the banshee warning us that someone in our family was going to die.

Yeah, thanks, Mum.

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