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There I was, at my third paying gig, 4 30-minute performances
for kindergarten classes. The first 3 classes
had gone well. And I was just starting to introduce my first
story when the little girl, sitting on the end of a row near the
back, threw up once. She got to her feet, took a step toward
the sink, and threw up again.
The teacher whisked the girl away, and the remaining 24
kids were all sharing their feelings aloud:
"Ew, that was gross!"
"It stinks in here!"
"You're right," I quickly said. "But these things happen
when you get sick. Do you want to say "Ew" some more?
Let's say it together - EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Do you
have some more Ews? OK, let's do it again.
EEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW. OK, enough Ews."
"But it still stinks!"
"Yes, I know. Your teacher knows what to do. In the
meantime, I'll start my story. One winter afternoon, when
the ground was covered with snow, a grandmother named
Baba sat knitting by the fire..."
While I told, a parent helper was sprinkling what looked like
sawdust from a box onto the messes on the floor - anti-barf,
I guessed. Then the teacher sidled up to me.
"You're going to have to move to the other side of the room so
the janitor can clean up the mess. You can sit on the couch
and the kids can sit on the floor in front of you."
"OK, kids, I guess this is a moving story."
"Children!", the teacher commanded. "Be very careful and
walk around the mess on the floor."
So we eventually got settled on the other side of the room. I
continued. "Baba! Are you making those new mittens for
me? That's my favorite color!"
A little boy to my right in the front row quivered, "I want to
The teacher called out, "It's alright. Your mother will be
I continued. "When will you finish my new mittens,
In a few minutes, I saw the janitor arrive outside the door,
where he had a loud conversation with someone. I
"Misha didn't know he had dropped his right mitten on the
ground. But someone else noticed..."
Then the janitor entered with his mop and bucket and only 3
kids watched him clean up the mess. But they all noticed
when he used the phone right next to the couch to call
someone. I continued.
"The young mouse said to the owl, "Sure, there's always
room for one more!" But the rabbit with the twitchy nose
said, "Well, watch where you put those sharp talons!"
The janitor left and I finally finished that story without any
more interruptions. Just as the class was applauding, the
janitor AND his vacuum cleaner arrived. He looked
apologetically over at me. Time for me to quickly rearrange
"OK, kids. Time to stand up and sign a song. We'll just use
the vacuum cleaner as the background music for our song.
Now this is an echo song. Do I hear an echo? You say what I
The janitor and his 'instrument' left before our song was
over. The kids were slow to sit back down until I said, "My
next story is about a ghost." Complete silence. "The ghost
with the one black eye. It started one winter morning..."
Wow! No interruptions during that story! The kids took a
while to get "I wan' mo' appa juice!" and "I AM THE GHOST
WITH THE ONE BLACK EYE!" out of their systems.
Finally I said, "Oh, you've got to quiet down quickly or I
won't have time to tell you one more story."
A boy just to my left in the front row said, "I don't want you
to tell another story."
I was stunned. But luckily, before I did or said anything
rash, the boy who had wanted his mother said, "I want to
hear about the ghost again! I want the ghost again!"
I help up my hand, like a traffic cop stopping traffic. "I'm
sure you all could tell that story, you all joined in so nicely."
"I want YOU to that the ghost story right NOW!"
I did my traffic cop impression again. "I'm REALLY glad that
you liked that story so much. However the people who paid
me to come here paid me to tell different stories."
And while he inhaled to launch into yet another speech, I
quickly said, "And my last story is MASTER OF ALL
MASTERS. A long time ago in England, there was a family, a
mother, a father and a daughter named Jane..."
I finished that story, said thank you, the teacher and the
mother thanked me, and I got out into the parking lot
before it hit me.
One of my friends and storytelling mentors Lois had told me
the previous year, after one of her performances, "That was a
great performance! No one threw up or had a nose bleed!"
"That happens?" I inquired faintly.
"Oh, yes," she replied cheerfully.
Now in the parking lot, I remembered her words, and
realized that I had just passed a milestone in my storytelling
career - I had earned my _first_ storytelling barf badge today.
I laughed all the way to my car.
Copyright 1999 by Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.