Me: “Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. Goldilocks went for a walk in the woods but she got lost. She was wandering around, cold and hungry and tired, when she stumbled on a little cottage. This cottage was made out of candy and gingerbread and the witch who lived there had a big black stove where she liked to cook little children for supper . . . wait a minute, that’s not quite right . . .”
Man alive, I need to refresh my memory of those fairy tales! Goldilocks was with the three bears, sheesh. Too hot, too cold, just right, now I remember. So where did the cooking kids in the stove thing come from?! Hansel and Gretel??
Me: “Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Buttercup who was in love with a boy named Wesley.”
Big: “Ooh, I love this one! It’s about –”
Big: “Of unusual size!”
Me: “That’s right. And it’s also about wuv. Twoo wuv.”
Both my boys love to read books more than almost anything. I say “almost” because even more than reading books, they love to be told stories. Big especially loves stories and asks for them constantly. I used to be able to get out of reading books by saying I couldn’t read while I was cooking or cleaning or driving or whatever other activity needed doing. But telling stories? That can be done anytime, and boy, oh boy, did Big learn that lesson quickly. He asks when I’m driving . . . or peeing . . . or brushing my teeth . . . or brushing HIS teeth . . . anytime.
Me: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a boy named Luke Skywalker who was in love with his twin sister, Leia . . .”
My mister: “BLASPHEMER! It was never clearly stated that he was in love with her and he didn’t know she was his sister anyways!!!”
Big: “Mama, was Anakin Skywalker a good guy or a bad guy?”
Me: “Well, it’s complicated. First he’s good, then he falls in love, then he turns bad, then he gets his arms and legs cut off, then he’s kinda a robot . . .”
My mister: “Oh my god, he’s not a robot. Let me tell the story. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .”
Me: [in a low, raspy voice] “Luke, I am your father.”
My mister: “True fans do NOT misquote that line.”
Me: “Oooh, I’m scaaaared . . .”
Big: ” WILL SOMEONE PLEASE JUST TELL THE STORY!!”
As much as I like to think of myself as the creative type, I suck at coming up with stories on the fly. I freeze up, draw a blank. So I fall back on stories half-remembered from my own childhood and slightly watered-down versions of my favorite movies. I’ve told them mashups of fairy tales like the Goldilocks/Hansel and Gretel one. I’ve told them the grimmest bits of Grimm’s (anyone remember when The Princess splatted The Frog against the wall before kissing him into princehood? I do!). I’ve told them how Bruce Wayne became Batman, how Peter Parker became Spiderman, and how Clark Kent is really Superman and is also really an alien. Wow, I really am a geek mom.
Big: “Tell me a story, Mama.”
Little: “One time, two alligators walked into the Thunder Store [his name for the Rainforest Cafe] . . .”
Big: “No! That’s not a real story! Mama!!”
Me: “Okay, once upon a time, there was a hobbit named Frodo who fell in love with a sexy elf named Legolas . . . ”
My mister: [yelling from the other room] “I CAN HEAR YOU!!!”
Me: “Sorry, baby. Dada says I can’t tell any more stories. He’s the resident Middle Earth expert so go ask him to tell you a story. Oh, and ask him to tell you all about how Galadriel had a pet spider named Shelob.”
AND IT’S MAMA FOR THE WIN!