Every night before going to bed my children ask me to read them a book. Sometimes it’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, sometimes it’s “Curious George”, sometimes it’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, but as of late I’ve become bored with reading and reading and reading the same stories over and over and over again and so I’ve decided to write new stories for them. We gather on their bed or on the couch and I say, “What is tonight’s story about?” and they give a simple suggestion… and so it begins…
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I’m sitting on my couch, my oldest daughter on my left and my son on my right. Both of them are curled up in their favorite blankies, both of them staring at me with wide eyes and big smiles. I say, “Once Upon a Time… there was a Little Boy and a Little Girl and they were brother and sister. And one day, they were walking along a street when they noticed that they were passing a very old house that nobody lived in. Nobody lived there. It was completely empty–
(Sometimes you have to hammer a point home because they’re so young).
–but, even though it was completely and totally empty and no one lived there, they heard….” and this is where I look at them because they help me tell the story. It’s kind of like a choose your own adventure for them that I make up as I go.
I look at Quinn and I say, “What did they hear?” and she whispers, “I don’t know…” and so I look at Rory and I say, “What did they hear?” and he says, “They hear a ghost… and a ghost says, “ooooooo-oooo-ooooOOOO!“” and I say, “Actually, what they heard was………..RAAAAR!!” AND I SHOUT AND LUNGE TOWARDS QUINN AND SHE SHOVES HERSELF BACK INTO THE COUCH AND PULLS THE BLANKET UP OVER HER HEAD AND SAYS, “Don’t do that! You scared me!”
“And so the Little Boy and the Little Girl were afraid and so they ran home to their Mommy and Daddy… but the next day they were walking past the house again and…. what did they hear?” and Rory says, “A ghost! And a ghost says, “ooooo-ooooo-ooooOOOO!” and I say, “RAAAAR!” and I lunge at Rory and he drops his blanket to the floor and his eyes well up a little and he says, “You scared me, Daddy,” and then his little bottom lip begins to quiver and I feel pretty bad…
I continue, “So the Little Boy and the Little Girl were scared and so they ran home to their Mommy and Daddy but the next day they were walking past the empty house again and what did they hear?” and Rory says, “They… heard…. ghosts….. and a ghost says, “Ooooo-ooo-oooOOO!” and I say, “They heard a noise that sounded like this, “Ooooo-ooo-oooOOOOO!” and the Little Boy and the Little Girl turned towards the empty, abandoned house and they started walking up the sidewalk, towards the front door. Click-clack-click-clack went their feet up the sidewalk and reeeeeee-reeeeeee went the squeaky front steps and then knock-knock-knock went their tiny little fists on the door and then eeeeeeeeeeeee went the door as it swung open and inside the house… what did they see?
And Rory, in fully obsessed form says, “A GHOST!” and I say, “They saw a white sheet floating in the middle of the room… and then another… and then another… and then another and then do you know how many ghosts they saw?” and Quinn says, “Eight” but my story was much bigger than that so I bent her choice a little with my own and I say, “100. They saw 100 ghosts floating around and dancing because they were having a Ghost Party.”
It’s at this point that I make a beat that sounds like a cross between ghost noises and dub-step music just to add to the general ambience.
“RAAAR!” I SHOUT and both kids jump and Quinn covers her face and Rory says, “What is it?!” and I say, “It’s a monster and it’s coming down the stairs! It’s coming to the ghost party!” and then in my scratchy monster voice I say, “I’m a monster that lives upstairs and everyone is afraid of me because of the way I talk and RAAAAR – I’m just so alone and lonely and I don’t have any friends. There’s a party happening down here in my own house and no one invited me and now my feelings are hurt.”
And then I turn to Rory, stare him in the eyes and say, “Will you be my friend, Little Boy?” and Rory say, “I will be your friend. Yes, I will be your friend, Monster,” and I say, “That is very nice. Can I have a hug?” and then Rory comes in close and hugs me and says, “I love this Monster,” and I say, “I love you too, Little Boy.”
I turn to my daughter and I say, “Little Girl, will you be my friend?” and Quinn stares me dead in the eyes and says, “No. No, I don’t want to be your friend,” but Rory quickly interjects and says, “Be our friend! Be friends with us!” but Quinn holds her ground, “No… I don’t want to…”
And the story continues, “So the Little Girl left the house and she shut the squeaky door behind her and she stepped down the wooden steps and she walked down the sidewalk and she went all the way back home to her Mommy and Daddy and–”
“But… where is the Little Boy?” asks Quinn.
“Oh, he stayed in the house with the monster and became the one hundred and first ghost of the party.”
The children both look at me and so I say, “The… End.”
Rory says, “That Ghost Party is fun,” and Quinn says, “Does the Little Girl see her brother again?” and I say, “No. He stayed in the house to play with the monster and he never came out,” and Quinn asks, “Does the Little Girl see her Mommy and Daddy again?” and I say, “Yes. She goes home and she lives with them for a very long time,” and then Quinn says, “What do her Mommy and Daddy do?” and I say, “They just work regular nine to five jobs,” and Quinn says, “Oh. Ok.”