At our house, Benjamin is the great negotiator. When I say he can have one sip of sweet tea, he asks for two. When I explain that the game is over, he wants just one more turn. And when it's bedtime, it's the number of stories that we haggle over.

At our house, Benjamin is the great negotiator. When I say he can have one sip of sweet tea, he asks for two. When I explain that the game is over, he wants just one more turn. And when it's bedtime, it's the number of stories that we haggle over.

Books are fine during the day but at night he wants stories "just from your mouth." Often, he wants a loose rendition of The Three Little Pigs. (The building materials are changed from straw and brick to things like bubblegum and marshmallow, and sometimes "Star Wars" characters make cameo appearances at the pigs' houses.)

But it's the story of the three little girls that he asks for the most, a story that has remained structurally unchanged since my daddy started telling it more than 40 years ago, when there were fewer daughters to tell it to.

In the beginning, Daddy notices a pretty girl on the school bus. She's so shy that she rarely talks, but Daddy convinces her to go out with him on a date. And then another. Soon she asks Daddy to marry her - although, in fairness, Mama says it was Daddy who did the asking that cold December day in 1956.

Regardless of who asked whom, they decided to have a baby, so they went to the hospital to get one. This is the place in the story where it gets really interactive. The listener must first guess the gender of the baby, then the name and then act out some of the things that babies do. This is repeated baby after baby until you wind up with me and what I consider a happy ending.

I've tried telling the story of the three little boys, complete with how I met my husband, but somehow Benjamin always goes back to Daddy's version. Maybe it's the cadence. Maybe it's the charm of taking a date to a drive-in movie theater. Or maybe Benjamin instinctively knows the power of a story told the way its author intended for it to be. Maybe, like the rest of us, he's being carried by the twists and turns of a good parable to a place where he can touch the unseeable.

Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who now shares her own journey of faith with readers. She lives in Rochester, N.Y., with her husband, their three young boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. To contact Gregory, email markettagregory@yahoo.com or write to her at P.O. Box 12923, Rochester, NY 14612. You can also visit the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter (@MarkettaGregory).