>Per my 6/1 post, these are some re-posts in honor of Father’s Day…
Fred, King of Storytellers – February 2009
Let me just tell you about Fred Stephens, and how he rocks the family story-telling. Probably seems like an ill-deserved, or at least not-particularly-desirable and easily-gained trait to many. Here’s where the man I married defies the rules:
1. You would think that the ideal story-reading/listening layout includes facing the same direction. Sophie and I, propped on one end of the couch, just enjoyed a fantastic tale with Fred, facing opposite. Who cares? Me. Because I can watch his face while he reads that story to our child. I can think of few things more endearing.
2. Have you done the voices for a children’s book lately? Yes, but have you really done the voices? This man can do monsters with the best of them, toddlers with the worst of them, siblings, parents, grandparents, chefs, shopkeepers and farmers. They’re all unique, and I love them all nearly as much as Sophie does. Cue the belly laugh.
3. It’s all about timing, particularly when it comes to sharing the pictures in a book. You have no idea, unless you know what I mean. This man I married reads the book (see #3), pauses with the utmost eloquence, slowly rotates the book and waits. He waits 15 to 20 seconds. Seems brief? Try it. He waits for the five year old (and her mother) to glance rapidly at both pages. He waits while we scan the right hand page (out of order), taking in the details. He waits while our eyes move to the left hand page, and watches our faces as things fall into place chronologically with the story. When he is certain we’ve taken it all in, he rotates the book again, turns the page, and continues. You don’t have the foggiest idea what this means and what it signifies, unless you do.
Marriage is a funny thing – it’s like A Tale of Two Cities: the best of times, the worst of times. Mostly the best of times. You go about your business, at times living like roommates. But then there are the evenings when you prepare a meal together, discipline a child with the same virtues in mind, or your connection boils down to eye contact over the top of a book read aloud to your child as you all sprawl limbs over limbs and tangled blankets on a far-too-small couch. These are the best of times.