Writing Stories

Robby called me from Miriam’s bedroom: “Dad, come see the puppet show.” They have played with, even made, hand puppets for a while and enjoy giving shows — whose typical script has been, “Hello, my name is Owl. Goodbye.” I was in high spirits after a very successful arithmetic session with Miriam (see Home Session 7). Sucker that I am, I came along. Walking through the door, I found the children were playing “Ambush” — both lying under covers on the top bunk and crying “BAM BAM” as I walked through the door. Riotous laughter.
Suffering only flesh wounds, I managed to return their fire, then said I thought it was a dirty trick for them to call me to see a puppet show, then shoot me. Miriam responded, “This was our puppet show —

Once upon a time,
There were two guns.
Bang. Bang.
The end.

Her joke was a spontaneous expression of the WRITER program’s story format. Her use of it in this explanatory way shows her recognition that it is a shared model of what a story structure is.

The puppet-show play continued; the children agreed to put on a real puppet show. I had to leave the bedroom, and when ready, they summoned the audience with toots on a toy horn.

Act I The fierce Owl (Robby) swooped down and pounced upon the dancing ballerina (Miriam’s doll).,
Act II The fierce Owl, joined by Eeyore, climbed a tree, and both pounced upon whom? The ballerina had become a teacher and had to be pounced upon because the owl and donkey didn’t want to go to school.
Act III The owl and donkey climbed a tree whence better to pounce upon the teacher, now riding upon two toy horses because of injuries received in act II. (Miriam plays such an action herself because she is so big and her favorite toy horses so small). Miriam argued that it was O.K. for Robby to pounce upon the teacher, but he shouldn’t bite “little horsey.”
Act IVThe horns again called me into the room. “BAM BAM BAM” — ambushed again.

When I had resettled in the reading alcove of my bedroom, the children rushed upon me with cried of “Act V.” We engaged in a general rough house and pillow fight.

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