“Etta fall down. At da zoo. Hurt knees. Hurt hands. Etta cry.” It happened in October, but she still tells me this story of her epic zoo fall at least once a day.
“Claire Bear fall down. At da wi-berry. I bonked my head on a shelf. I screamed. Then Mama had me.” This fall at the library, too, happened in October. This story, as well, is told as frequently and reverently as a great epic from the oral tradition, with all the solemnity a toddler can muster.
Usually we sigh, the way we all tend to do when someone tells us something we’ve heard before a hundred times, and say something like, “I know baby, you fell down and hurt yourself, but that was weeks ago, and you’re ok now! Your owies are all gone!” The repetition seems to us a little silly– why keep telling the story of such little hurts? Childhood is practically made of skinned hands and knees, of knots on foreheads and bruises that fade slowly, like sunsets that last weeks.
But to our girls, they are the biggest falls they’ve had yet. Their most significant injuries. Big events in the life of small people who lead otherwise routine little lives. To them, they are big stories worth telling.