While we’re on the topic of bedtime, we should talk about made up stories. Kids love ‘em, and they have some nice benefits for the parents.
You can basically stretch out a made up story into incredibly dull lists, thus helping to send the little tweeker into Slumberton. Like this-
[said in a very slow, calm, hypnotist type voice] ... and then he got out the eggs, and the flour, and the vanilla [pause] ... and then he got out the sugar, and some butter, and some strawberries [p a u s e] ... and then he got the mixing bowl, and the whisk, and a wooden spoon, and two cake pans [p a u s e] ... and then he put the flour into the mixing bowl, and then he put the eggs into the mixing bowl, and then he put the butter and vanilla into the mixing bowl [P A U S E] ... and then he plugged in the electric whisk thingy, and mixed it all together.... oh, and he added a little milk into the mixing bowl...
I bet you turned off pretty quick and skipped over most of that, didn’t you? Well, I don’t blame you, it’s soul numbingly dull. But that’s the technique I like for the end of the story when I’m trying to get 4 year old daughter to nod off.
Now, you can’t just have a crap story with nothing exciting because the kid won’t want to hear it anymore, in fact it may end up pissing them off instead of getting them to sleep (I’ve seen it happen). So it’s gotta have some fun parts too.
Mostly because I’m lazy, I made up a character called Bill The Dragon. Bill has a little sister called Veronica, and his Mum and Dad are Susan and Roger. It’s basically our family, except that we’re dragons and have cooler names.
Bill and his family do cool things like build sandcastles at the beach, plant a flower garden (a really good one for lists!), go to the museum. Bill is an excellent baker, and loves to bake cakes and cookies with his little sister. Fun, simple stuff. Not to say that it doesn’t get whacky from time to time.
Back when I was still clinging to a thread of hope that Obersturmführer Bällerinä would somehow want to play football (Ha!), I told a Bill The Dragon story about Bill and Veronica playing Flying Ballet Football with their friends. It was incredibly silly-
... and then Veronica went from first position and did a perfect plié with a fast run into a well executed brisé, got her head on the ball and smashed it past the flailing ‘keeper with a powerful header to the top right corner. Everyone hugged her and they all smiled because football is great. Oh yeah, and so is ballet.
Needless to say, she shows absolutely no interest in playing football and is all about the dancing. Surprise surprise.
So that little brainwashing attempt obviously failed, even though it probably never really stood a chance anyway.
Another benefit of made up stories can be that you ‘big yourself up’- here’s a little excerpt from one of our stories...
... that’s when Roger- Bill and Veronica’s Dad- took them out for gelato.
“You’re the best, Dad!” said Bill and Veronica,
“You got that right kids,” said Roger “Dads are the best!”
And they all hugged and laughed, and Roger told them that he loved them, and then he bought Veronica a Curious George dvd, and they went home and Susan made her famous popcorn and they all watched Curious George.
After the movie, Veronica gave Roger a big hug.
“I love you Dad. You are really great.” she said.
“I agree Sweetie, and you’re really great too.”
And then Roger told her a story and she went to sleep. Because Dads are great and they tell the best stories. The End.
Power of positive persuasion, right? Right.
I did one where Roger gets tickets to the ballet for Veronica and Susan. Because Dads are great.
I do one where Veronica’s things keep getting broken or stop working and Roger fixes them every time. Because Dads are great and can do lots of stuff.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all Roger all the time. No, no. Susan gets to be great too. She helped Bill and Veronica plant their flower and vegetable gardens by taking them to the nursery and picking out all the cool stuff they were going to plant. After Roger roto-tilled all the soil, because it was a tough manly Dad job that big tough Dads like to do, Susan did all the planting with them. Because Mums are great. See? I spread it around, I’m not holding out. Bill gets big upped as the best-big-brother-ever when he does cool stuff with Veronica. Everyone gets a taste. I’m an equal opportunity made up story teller. Well, if I’m being fair, I would have to say that Roger does get a bit more of the praise... Whudahyahgonnado? ;)
So, apart from telling you about Bill The Dragon, I guess I was also attempting to offer some story telling advice to any fellow bedtime sufferers out there. Anything’s worth a try, am I right? Hope it helps, my tired and grumpy Bedtime War compatriots. It works for me. Sometimes. Hopefully.
That’s it for now.
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Thanks for reading. See you soon.
“... the unread voice of a generation.”