Last night I asked my children if they wanted a bedtime story or a spooky story. I had never raised that query before and Sophie immediately widened her eyes: “Spooky story.” The kids were silent as I ran through a couple I knew (the one with the hook hanging off the car door? I told it badly, but they got the general idea).
I decide to go off-path and tell a story about a scary tree – my hands make the creepy-looking branches and wave in the evil, cold wind. The tree snatches up children, names by request: Nels, Sophie, then Olivia. The children – trapped in the Scary Tree! Alone and frightened! I tell them Mama decides to go confront the tree; Mama gets dressed in clothes (bra, panties, two tee shirts, a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie, pants, socks, big boots, a jacket, mittens, scarf, hat) and marches out to find the tree.
[ smack! ] Sophie removes her thumb from her mouth, raises her eyebrows, and intones simply: “You’re going to get yourself killed.”
Note to parents: it’s tough to tell spooky stories when you’re stifling a laugh at the scariest part.
In today’s naptime version (Nels especially likes the thought of his friend Olivia being captured and held in the tree; he has a slight crush on her I believe): the method of dispatch for the hideous deciduous villian is that Sophie finds Grandpa and asks him to take his big bus and run the tree down, thereby freeing the children. Nels, up until now completely quiet, can be silent no more:
“AND NELS RIDES THE BUS AND SOPHIE RIDES THE BUS AND OLIVIA RIDES THE BUS AND GRANDPA RIDES THE BUS AND CYNTHIA RIDES THE BUS!”
“Lower your voice!” says Sophie, in the most adult tone her duck-like register can. Ready to hear the rest of the story. Nels’ eyes are filled with stars, thinking of riding in the beloved bus with all this loved ones.