Telling a Damn Good Story without Words

I was playing a game with two toddlers and another adult. Everybody understood the rules: walk around until you’re instructed to sit down on your choice of colorful silk scarves spread out on the ground. And then we’ll take turns telling stories based on the color we’re each sitting on.

The younger of the two little girls doesn’t yet talk much in a traditional, technically accurate way, though she has specific sounds and understands any and everything. The other three of us have quite a lot to say, and we can say it clearly. And be understood.

We did a few rounds. It was fun to hear what the older girl had to say about a green cow named Brownie and all the things that befell that cow in a green world. It was fun to hear purple and yellow stories. And it was especially fun to hear from the girl who didn’t have any comprehensible words. She gesticulated. She made a sound or two. We answered as one might answer any storyteller, “Really? Then what? Tell me more!” And she did tell more. All of it quite clear to her. And not so clear to us, the listeners. In fact, we have no idea what her story was about.

When her turn finished, we all clapped as we did for each person at the end of their story.

And she beamed. As did we.