Tuesday night I went to my sister-in-law’s house to entertain the four-year-old niece, J, while the newborn niece was being calmed and fed. My job on these visits is to tell a ‘Once upon a time’ story and get J into bed. The story isn’t so much a story as an interactive roleplaying game directed by J and featuring every object in her bedroom. Summary of Tuesday night’s story:
- I was an witch who wanted to cast a spell on the chief fairy, J. The spell would turn her into a bird who only liked black things, which would be represented by putting on a big pink boa.
- No matter how I cast the spell, J was able to deflect it by waving a purple lei and giggle-shrieking. I eventually just gave up and put the boa on myself and became a grouchy goth bird.
- After defeating me, J deputized me to find the evilest fairy in the world. I asked around the bedroom and in a surprising third-act reversal discovered that J herself was the evilest fairy in the world.
I thought the changing roles of good and evil gave this story an unusual sophistication. Sort of like L.A. Confidential, but with fairies. Fairy noir.
Last night the BHE* and I visited my sister-in-law. It was the first night she was home alone with a newborn and a four-year-old, so we went over to help put the four-year-old niece, J, to bed while the new niece was being attended to.
One of the steps in J’s inflexible bedtime ritual is the telling of an original “Once-upon-a-time” story as she lies in bed. J was very weepy about not having her mom put her to bed, and when it was time for the story she melted down. “You don’t know how to tell stories!” she wailed. I assured her that I do, and I tell stories all the time, but she kept insisting that she needed a certain kind of special story that I wouldn’t be able to tell. Finally she yelled “I like special stories! You don’t know how to tell stories with special things like magic and unicorns and dragons!”.
I suppressed my impulse to demonstrate my knowledge of hit dice and special attacks, and explained to her that although she doesn’t know me very well, I really really do know a lot about magic, unicorns, and dragons, and I tell stories about them all the time. Eventually she calmed down, and after we’d had a few minutes of the story about her two stuffed unicorns (Uni and
Whitey) visiting a lady who lives in the woods and gives nuts to squirrels she said “I like your kind of story the best.”
I can’t believe a preschooler questioned my magical unicorn creds. Clearly I haven’t been spending enough time with her.
*Best Husband Ever. I asked him what he wanted to be called, and he said “Whatever I say is going to come back to haunt me.”