Naomi’s narrations always seem to begin the same way: “I don’t know… I don’t know anything!”
Here’s how it goes today: I read the one-paragraph parsha summary in The Shabbat Book. She sits beside me on the sofa, whining and rubbing against me for a few minutes. Half-heartedly (knowing I wouldn’t), she asks me to read it again.
I sit there with my pen on the paper. I write “in this week’s parsha…” I avoid eye contact. I avoid showing weakness. I wait.
And then, finally, she starts…!
Today, there were so many words, I couldn’t keep up, I had to abbreviate and at one point skip a couple of words because she was going so fast. She brought in far more detail than the one paragraph I’d read her, incorporating facts from this week’s parsha narrative. I had to continue with a couple of lines on the reverse; we’ve never run out of room before.
And her picture! Here’s Paroh at his palace, greeting bnei Yisrael as they arrive. The women are in the wagon (pulled by a pop-eyed donkey), and at the bottom of the wagon is Yocheved, the very last of the seventy counted as going down into Mitzrayim. In the top left corner are two carefully labelled maps, reminiscent of yesterday’s parsha map work.
I am amazed and grateful for this wonderful narration strategy. Sure, I could bore my kid and myself to tears with endless, tedious Q&As, but in one two-minute narration, she has proven that she really REALLY understands the story.
Instead of tossing back one or two word answers, narration encapsulates an entire story or concept – and it’s quicker than a quiz, too!
By reformulating the ideas in her own words and pictures, she is internalizing the story, making it her own. I doubt she will forget these lessons easily, but if she does, we also have a high-quality memento to look back on when we get to this parsha again next year.