The Treasured Memory
A Favorite Bedtime Story
I often wonder about what my children will remember from their childhood.
Any sweet memories I have of being little all involve my abuela. My grandmother is the one who raised me and when I think of the days of being a small child, it is her face I see and her voice I hear.
Bedtime was a favorite part of my day; my abuela made it that way. As it grew dark outside, my grandmother would gather my younger siblings and she’d set us all in one bathtub to soak while she’d watch over us and sing a sweet Spanish song.
She’d help us dry off and get into our pajamas, and when we were ready for bed, my grandmother would have us stand on our beds as she’d tightly twirl a blanket around us. We’d giggle as we’d be wrapped up tighter than a moth in a cocoon.
After we were washed and dried and wrapped, she’d lay us down and begin to tell us a story. Since my grandmother came to this country when she was almost 60-years-old, all of her stories were richly Latin.
There was one tale in particular that I begged for each night. I barely remember the full story, but I do remember how I loved to hear my abuela tell it. It was about a little frog who lived in a stream and a little girl that came to the river to wash her family’s clothes.
I always imagined myself as that little girl. This little girl thought herself very ugly, and each day as she’d wash the clothes, she’d cry over her misfortune of not being born beautiful and her tears would fall into the stream and be carried down the river.
One day this little girl’s tears made their way to the frog that lived in the water. This frog also felt he was ugly. He was so moved by the little girl’s pain and understood her unhappiness so well, that he made her beautiful. When the little girl saw her beautiful reflection in the stream, she was so happy at how lovely the frog had made her that she picked him up in her hand, and not caring that he was ugly, kissed him.
Her kiss turned him into a handsome young man and together they were happy and never lonely again.
I have such a rich, full memory of these times with my abuela, and it’s that reminder of how only 15 minutes in a day can turn into a memory my children will talk about fifty years from now, that keeps me from never saying no when my youngest asks me to sit and read with him.
No matter how busy I am, how many dishes there are in the sink, how many baskets full of laundry to be folded, I never say no.