Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Who Tells the Story

I spent part of the long weekend visiting family and two of my cousins started to tell a story about my brother that was about how he fell asleep in a boat without a life jacket and the boat capsized and he was stuck under the hull and my uncle was able to help get him out because he had a life jacket.  The story was apparently one my uncle brought up a lot which is amusing, whereas it sounded vaguely familiar to me so I asked my uncle later that day to tell me the story.  His version (and my mother was there too for corroboration) was that my parents had been out sailing and my brother (who I think was two or three at the time) had fallen asleep in the small space under the deck of the boat (it was a small boat, only a toddler would have fit under there).  The boat capsized (in my parent's defense, my uncle said they passed by a larger sailboat that was taking much of the wind and then as they pulled in front then caught all the wind so the wind on their boat shifted dramatically).  My mother - who had drilled into us always wear a life jacket, have it on and useful, because you never know - had her life jacket on.  My dad did not, so he surfaced quickly but was hanging onto the boat to stay afloat.  My uncle, who was passing by in a motorboat with a friend was wearing his life jacket.  His friend was not.  So it was my uncle and my mom who were able to dive under the boat and retrieve my brother who was wearing a life jacket but probably wasn't awake or aware of what was happening yet.  
The point of this is not to say that my cousins are bad at stories.  They are not.  But because this story had been turned into a repetitive learning opportunity for them it had taken on the tone of bla, bla, bla, yes, dad, you should always wear your life jacket and they did not recall enough to actually make it a useful story for them to pass on to anyone.  (I'm pretty sure that they have great stories to tell.  It will all be fine.)  
But it was an interesting reminder that people's ability to tell a story can be impacted by how it was told to them.  And why.