“No! The king is Tim and the pirate is Teddy!” Tim interjected, sitting up in bed.
“Right. One day King Tim saw the Ice King –”
“And – and that’s Shebon. The Ice King is you!” came the agitated voice.
“OK. The ice queen started chasing King Tim. She wanted him to go to bed, but he said “No! You’re stupid!” and ran away. But she caught up with him and turned him into ice.”
“No! No. King Tim turns into a dragon and flies away and breathes fire.”
“Tim, this is my story.”
“You’re saying it wrong.”
“Fine. Then King Tim turns into a dragon and melts the Ice Queen with his fire. And I’ll have to tell you the rest next time.”
“No! I’ll tell the rest!”
“Fine.” It was never my story anyways.
I had been trying to lull him to sleep with my soothing story-telling voice (it works on my boyfriend in broad daylight), but, as it turns out, this is ineffective when the child views nighttime stories as interactive, choose your own adventure affairs.
I’m not really sure how authors like J.M. Barrie create actual novels based on stories they had been telling children. Stories off the top of my head tend to be rather derivative and usually involve bunnies. (“There were two brother bunnies. They loved to eat grass.” “No! Rabbits eat carrots, not grass.” “Right. Anyways, they loved going to Farmer Joe’s garden…”).
I’ve learned that when I introduce Teddy and Tim (aged 3 and 4 respectively) to new ideas that they like, I need to be prepared for the consequences: obsessive repetition. They don’t get tired of watching the same movies, listening to the same stories, or playing the same games. Which is possibly why I shouldn’t have introduced them to the world of imaginary crocodiles living around the playground. I had to use sea dwellers, because when I pointed and pretended to see lions or tigers, they got confused. Crocs were less confusing.
We then spent several afternoons throwing imaginary weapons at crocodiles and clambering onto the slide area where they couldn’t follow us.
A few days ago I looked at my phone: three missed calls from my older brother who was watching the kids. I called him back. He and the boys had gotten themselves locked out on the balcony. The boys wouldn’t tell him how to open the automatically locked door “because they didn’t want the crocodiles to get us.” His tone was frustrated, not accusatory and I was content to let him believe the crocodiles were of their own doing.
The boys have also taught me valuable mothering lessons. Namely, potty training a boy involves more casualties than potty training a girl. Boys have a much bigger range of fire/splash zone.
Here’s a bit of Christmas cheer: