Thursday, February 18, 2010

habits my kids wont allow me to break

As a parent, has anyone ever developed a quirk or habit that your children grew to love (and you quickly grew to hate?) I have lots in my limited experience as a parent and some we have grown out of and some we have not. I have acquired a new one though. Tooth brush stories. One night I told a story to Bubba as I was helping him brush his teeth to get him to hold still and then Junior wanted one. And then they both wanted one the next night, and the next and at the rate of enthusiasm I am getting, I expect to have to do this until they leave for college. On the one hand, it is a good thing because they don't let me get lazy and skip tooth brushing, but on the other hand, I am a miserable story teller. Truly miserable. I remember long ago when I lived with my sister, I would help put her two year old to bed sometimes. On one occasion, we sat in the dark and I tried to make up a story to tell her. It went so badly that I finally ended up starting over with "A long time ago, God made the earth and when he did that he put animals on it. He put lions and tigers and whales and fish and etc. etc. etc." She finally fell asleep out of sheer boredom. I thought I might grow into story telling as a parent, but I still stink at it. We have been doing this for weeks and I have yet to get by a single night without having to make up something dumb. I'm not even sure why they still ask. I guess it is because I give what they consider a gem every now and then. I can tell when I am below par though because as Junior drifts off afterward toward his room, he will say "remember that really good one you told about how the gummy bear grew big and ate me?" or "I really liked the one about the sugar bugs (plaque) on my teeth and they had hammers and made holes until I brushed them away..." I suppose even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.

Bubba is far less discerning. Mostly I just have to make up something about him growing wings or turning into a monkey (not far off these days). But I panic a little every time we troop upstairs to attend to our dental needs. You have no idea of the amount of pressure! Once I tried to make a really boring story more interesting by singing it, but even Bubba wasn't fooled. Junior smiled gamely and tentatively asked "can we do a different one?" J is a fantastic story teller. I do not have his talent, but I would be thrilled if one of the kids inherited it because when I am old and crazy, I am going to make them tell stories to me in order to make me brush my teeth.

Sometimes, when we have had a rough day, I try to weave a moral into it, such as the benefits of listening to your mother or not hitting your brother. But I'm finding that mostly they just want fictional versions of them being chased or eaten by something and I am running out of plots. I could recycle the same few for Bubba for awhile, but Junior is more astute than that.

Clearly my kids realize what a sucker I am. I remember how long the 'putting Bubba to bed' song and dance lasted and realize with no small amount of horror that I could be doing this for years!! I can be animated, but not that imaginative. My creative talents are purely impressionistic. So if anyone has any plot ideas for two minute stories, let me know. They must be thrilling, there must be some element of magic or danger and they must feature a boy named either Junior or Bubba. Try not to make them too funny though, because I have had toothpaste spit on me more than once as a reward for my humor. Thanks.
Even Sis knows how to work me. I usually carry her to the kitchen with me to prepare her bottle in the middle of the night and one night she was particularly fussy. I rocked her back and forth on my hip to soothe her while we waited for the tap water to run warm (far too long a process in this house. You would think our water heater was a block away.) She liked it so much, she has insisted on it every night since. If I don't, she kicks her legs with far more enthusiasm than I can handle in the middle of the night and while under the influence of Ambien. Every night sees me swaying back and forth in the kitchen like a drunkard at 3 a.m. while she squeals and I try to keep my balance. Like I said...sucker!

So my kids work me like crazy. They know the effect of a sincere look and a heartfelt "please?" (or in Sis's case, the effectiveness of being kicked into submission). I suppose it could be worse. They could be hitting me up for money. Although I am pretty close to offering that instead of stories these days. I am getting that desperate.


  1. I think you should start retelling greek myths. For example:

    Once upon a time there were two little boys named Samuel and Thomas. They loved looking at the sky and watching the birds fly in the air. They really wanted to try to fly. So they decided to make some wings, so they could fly like the birds. When the wings were ready to go, their mom told them "Don't fly too high to the sun, or else it will melt the glue (tape?) on your wings and you'll fall."

    Sam and Thomas promised they'd be careful, but when they were flying, they couldn't resist. They wanted to go higher and higher! As they flew higher in the sky than anyone else had, their wings did melt and they fell all the way into the ocean. They had to be rescued by some dolphins and they learned that you should always listen to their mom.

    There you go. Of course you can put your own spin on it. ;)

  2. I once tried Peter and the Wolf to try to teach Porter about lying but it had no effect. He was more interested in the wolf's teeth.
    Maybe you should ask them what the story should be about before you start and then go from there.

  3. I was going to say to do the plot lines from Lost. That will take years. Or start watching gossip girl. That one can keep the stories going for awhile.

  4. I also suck at making up stories on the spot. I've found the girls love the "classics" like little red riding hood, goldilocks and etc. Sometimes I switch the names to theirs, but mostly I leave them be and they are OK. I've also found that a story about them doing "normal" thinks is good too- going to the park, riding a ride at disneyland, etc. My kids don't seem to care for unique or adventerous, I guess.

    DMP tells a good one about a fish. It goes like this (you can expand or not as you like or change the fish name/gender).
    Once upon a time, there was a fish named buttercup. She loved to jump high up out of the water and do flips and land with a splash. One day she was doing her tricks and landed on a rock. She lay there in the hot sun, scared, and along came a frog. "Can you please help me off this rock, Mr. Frog?" The frog said sure and used his powerful legs to kick her off the rock. She flew further and faster than she ever had before.

    She swam back quickly and asked the frog to do it again. He said he couldn't because he had to get food. She offered to get him some yummy bug eggs from the bottom of the pond if he would help her fly through the air again. From that day on, they were good friends- she gets him food and he helps her do her jumping tricks. The end.

  5. Do any of you remember the stories dad told...share and recycle...the Lonesome Gumball Machine?