Jon-Barrett Ingels is a man of many talents – a writer, producer, actor, filmmaker, and podcast host and producer. He’s also a proud father to two children. Ingels currently works in development, creating television and streaming series, miniseries, and feature films, and is part of the storytelling team bringing Piper + Enza to life!
I love telling stories! From my days growing up in children’s theatre, to studying screenwriting and acting in college, to sharing stories of rare wines and why they are valued the way they are, I have been telling stories my whole life. I find ways to connect and engage with my audience, to become relatable, and make it a mutual experience. I get just as much out of telling a story as whoever receives it. That’s the goal, anyway.
Becoming a father has added wonderful layers to my storytelling.
For one, it gave me a built-in audience who are forced (by the laws of parent and child) to listen to all the stories I have to share, even if they don’t have princesses or aliens. It has also given me the opportunity to share stories of fatherhood with other parents and with my friends who are still single and childless and curious about what it must be like. I get to share stories of challenges and frustration, of heartbreak and loss, of the overwhelming joy of celebrating success and experiencing new things.
Stories encourage empathy and understanding.
I get to remind my kids that I, too, was a child once, long ago, and I made mistakes, and I wanted to give up sometimes, and I didn’t always get what I wanted, and there were things that I loved, like bubble gum ice cream (for some reason), and things I hated, like practicing piano—something adult me wishes I had done more. I share stories of my childhood with my children with the hopes that they see me as human, imperfect, and still learning, not some godlike figure with all the answers.
When my daughter was four, so little and so curious, and always wanting to hold my hand wherever we went, she developed an inguinal hernia. Nothing serious, but it did require laparoscopic surgery. She would be under general anesthesia for about an hour. She was so small, her tiny arm holding a huge IV. I was panicking, having no control over what was happening to my little girl, and no way to make it better. All I could do was tell her a story.
It went a little something like this:
When I was three, I had the same procedure. I remember my mom and dad staying with me as I lay in the oversized hospital bed. The doctor asked me to choose which stuffed animal to take with me. I remember being wheeled in though the double doors and drifting off to sleep on the operating table. I got my first Lego set after that. And I got a scar that has been with me ever since.
I told my daughter that story. I showed her my scar. I gave her a choice of stuffies to bring with her. I let her know that everything would be ok, that the doctor knew exactly what they were doing, and that her mom and I would be waiting when she woke up.
I cried for an hour, starting the moment she was walked through the double doors. I cried when she came back and the pain kicked in for her. For the first time, I had the strongest understanding of what my parents had endured and loved them all the more for it. Now, years later, my daughter is the one telling her story of her trauma and showing her scars to whoever will listen.
Healing begins with sharing stories.
It is the moment we realize we are not alone, that maybe someone else can relate to what we are going through and maybe they can help us get through the trauma, or we can help them. I love telling stories and I love that I have the opportunity to do so with all of you.
Jon-Barrett Ingels is a writer and storyteller currently working on Piper + Enza’s children’s book series, coming Summer 2021.