Once upon a time, I sat at our dinner table before mealtime and looked for an adventure. Things had become rather dull in our house as days sometimes are. I looked, and I saw two floss picks, two ceramic yellow pig shaped salt and pepper shakers, and an empty mug from which I had just drank my morning coffee.
As I grabbed them, the floss picks instantly became shepherd’s staves and the pig salt and pepper shakers became members of their flock. I had already begun walking the staves around herding their pigs when I looked at my mug. It was a gift to my wife from her sister, and it had an owl’s face on it. Just for kicks, I flicked it on its beak, and the sound it made completed the adventure.
As it was empty, the mug reverberated the clear sound of a locomotive. Because it had an owl face, the train called out a “Hoo! Hoo!” and I pushed it aimlessly around the table. As the owl train drew dangerously close to the swine, the shepherds would do their best to guide their droves to safer parts of the table.
Since there were no apparent railroad tracks, the train ended up following the pigs’ tracks. Seeing this, the shepherds became frantic and started calling out for their pigs to run. It was at this point that my kids had become interested in the plight of the shepherds and their pigs and the run away owl train.
Just then, the train hit one of the shepherds and knocked him down. It was only a glance but as the shepherd tried to rise to his feet, the mug turned and struck him with its handle. The unfortunate shepherd was tossed from the table as the owl train steamed by.
The “Hoo! Hoo!” had then taken on a maniacal call as the owl train turned and hungrily raced after the pigs. The lone shepherd had witnessed what had happened to his friend and fearlessly faced off against his locomotive foe. With a final call to his pigs to flee, that sounded oddly like Gandalf, he charged.
My kids, at that point, were all sitting around the table. I explained to them what the challenge was and without waiting they started grabbing the pigs and made their own adventures. What had only taken me a few moments to create entertained my kids for many minutes afterwards.
Wait, what happened to the brave shepherd? Don’t be like Fred Savage’s character in Princess Bride. If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a storyteller Dad, it’s that sometimes stories don’t have endings. If there is to this one, owl never tell.