Path2Story Ch. 47 “What do you think happened?”

The other day, my son told me about what he saw in the dirt and trees. He said, “It was really strange Dad. Two ants from opposite directions ran right into each other. They continued until the first half of their bodies were both upright and their front arms knocked against each other.” Now, what we didn’t do was talk about scientific terms and conduct a review of events with an encyclopedia search etc. No, that was for school. I asked him what he thought had happened and why, and that’s when the adventures began!

First, as was typical for him, he went for warfare and described the ants as warriors locked in an epic duel. They met, as they always did at that hour, to fight over a bit of land they both claimed was theirs. With quotes of Gandalf’s, “YOU shall not pass!” mixed with Monty Python’s Black Knight, “NONE shall pass!”, the combatants entered into mortal combat! However, as my son watched, he said the ants paused and then moved around each other and went on their way. As cries of “Fly you fools!” and “I’ll bite your legs off!” faded in the background, the interaction of the ants brought a different scenario to mind.

Next, he saw them as brothers who had embraced after being lost in the vast jungle of our backyard. Last night’s storm had separated them and they didn’t know if they’d ever see each other again. It was a teary eyed moment for my son, then it was over. The ants didn’t even wave goodbye!

It was at this point that my daughter added her take of events. With all of the stories that filled her mind, she imagined them as a man and woman’s forbidden love for each other. Like Romeo and Juliet, the two said goodbye before they were forced to depart.

These stories were a great example to me of time well spent. Video games, tv shows, books, movies, and the like, take their places as parts of entertainment, but they shouldn’t be our only source. Using story as a means of explaining the world around us can bring us closer together like the long lost brother ants. It helps us see different perspectives, and have fun imagining their tales. In case of competing imaginations, like the Gandalf and the Black Knight ants, we can save the real battle for Mount Doom and the holy hand grenade… Don’t forget, being ridiculous can also be a lot of fun, like trying to see parallels between Tolkien and Monty Python. Not taking ourselves too seriously can help before anyone loses an eye, or a finger, or an arm and a leg. “And as Shakespeare’s romantic tales still play a part in our imaginations, it’s nice to picture them in real life, even with small critters like ants,” concluded my daughter.

The next time you find yourself outdoors and you witness a curious thing, take a moment and have some fun answering: “What do you think happened?”

Path 2 Story ch.44, “Guess Which One!”

If you have already read to your kids every book you own, twice; if you can’t stand to listen to them whine of boredom or watch them systematically turn on each other like a pack of hyenas, (Besides, the last chapter, “In the Dirt and Trees” only works during sunny days), then perhaps you are ready to pull out the big guns! One such canon of colossal conflagration was a game we made up today called “Guess Which One!”

In this totally free interactive and intense game of competitive imaginations, you ask a question. For example, I planted two flowers but fertilized only one. Guess which one will grow faster. My kids would then make their guesses. I held out my fists with my thumbs tucked inside. Day 1- they both started to grow and a knuckle sprouted. Day 2- both thumbs could be seen just out of the dirt/fist. Then Day 3- the one I had picked in my mind would win and I’d stick the winning thumb up high. Feel free to antagonize a little with cheers for the victorious flower and sobs for the stubby little loser flower.

We were sitting in a circle and it was the next person’s turn to make up a choice between their thumbs. There were only a few rules we had to establish: No matter what story you made up for your hands, you couldn’t add to the story after the time of choice began. Another for the guessers was you have to stick with your first choice, no 2nd guesses! And the last one was more for the person creating the story- choose whichever hand you want to win first before you begin telling your story. A couple of times I got caught up in my own story and forgot to choose. It’s a bad idea to choose afterward. It’s even worse to tell your kids you did.

If the plant story doesn’t do ‘it’ for your kids, some other ideas were: Two stubborn warriors from opposite directions came to a bridge at the same time and fought over who would cross first. Have your hands fight to reveal the winner. We also did one of a lumberjack who had run out of firewood. There were two trees in the forest that he chose to cut down. Which one would he choose first? I put my elbows on the table and held my hands up. I made the sound effect of a creaky falling tree and shouted, “Timber!!!” The hand that fell was the winner. Another option could be a story of two oil tycoons that were drilling for a new well. Who would strike oil first? I made the drilling sound and slowly lowered my hands pointing them down. After the guesses were tallied, the winning hand would strike oil and my hand shot up and waved oil all around. The only limit is the story you create.

Now, for the tallied points and winning the game: Make up a goal like- first to 5 points or 10 wins. We didn’t have a limit which kept the game going indefinitely. My sons took up on the cue from my hand warriors and grabbed lego ones and had them fight. If you guessed the winner the point was yours. My daughter grabbed two of her books and asked questions about them. If you chose correctly you got the point. It got intense as I changed things like the bridge keeper in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I said whichever hand the last player chooses would automatically lose and take all the points with them. The first two whispered their choices to me which happened to be the same hand, and then the third- with maybe a little glance from me toward the one they chose, made his choice. Zeros all around! A little later after we got back up in points, I wanted some chocolate so I turned my points in for a bar. Again, no limits!

We all are facing this viratic-time with varying degrees of difficulty. Maybe playing a game with sanitized hands will help your family survive with a smile. If not, and this cannon’s a dud, then at least make up a song and give your hyenas some background music.

Path to Story, Chapter 39: Power Outage

When a sudden power outage changes everyone’s plans for the night; when your kids, and yourself, are just a little bit scared of how helpless you feel as you wait for the power company to fix the problem; when the crushing realization of how hopelessly dependent you, and your food, are for power in this refrigerated age- you might wish you made some Y2K/prepper plans, bought a generator, and an AR 15, but before you do that, you can help bring peace and comfort back to your home with Story.

We were without power for 12 hours. It was enough time for stuff to start going bad in the fridge. It was also enough time to start wondering if this outage was going to last for days or not. My kids were ok until the sun set and it got dark. We played a card game till then and made sure we gathered the flashlights and batteries.

Previously on this site, I’ve tried to mention how Story can bring in the fun during road trips, homework, and even life & death struggles, but after looking at my family’s expressions, fun was the last thing on anyone’s mind. However, now was the perfect time to help my kids feel peace. We prayed for the safety of the workers and for their speed, then I changed up the sleeping arrangements. It wasn’t necessary, none of it really is, but I wanted to take up the opportunity to make fun memories.

I was with my boys on the recliner and couch, and after we were all set, my sons asked for a story to help them fall to sleep. So I cherry-picked from a movie I saw when I was around their age, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Though the movie was not age-appropriate, it still was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The part I picked from was of an enchanter- there are some who call him Tim.

In the movie, Tim lead King Arthur and the knights of the round table to a vicious monster rabbit. But for the power outage, I told them how Tim was a tour guide that took people to interesting creatures and places. A giant, a frost dwarf, an elf, and a minotaur were the ones my son remembered and Tim lead us to a mountain, another cave, a forest, and a valley to meet them. Then we fell asleep. He doesn’t remember who fell asleep first, and due to the power company workers who didn’t fall asleep, the power was back on by morning. If I was more awake that night, Tim could have lead us to the whooping llamas or the beaten-like-a-rug cats, making more use of the comedy in the movie. Next time.

Long power outages may indeed be frightful and traumatic for the unprepared, but along with ammo and batteries, may Story also find its place to help arm you for the unexpected. It made our time more than just about waiting impatiently. We now have a memory of a fun story-filled campout adventure.

Even if you are the scared one, be brave and give Story a try, but maybe cherry-pick from a funny story they know, like Captain Underpants. Using funny stories is the best way to combat scary times.