A little yawn, a rub of the eyes, and my little one’s ready for bed, despite his best efforts to convince me otherwise. I know for both of us, he needs to climb up to bed and snuggle into his race car sheets and wind down, leaving the troubles and fun of the day behind.
My daughter isn’t as easy as that. She’s nearly four years older and scared of her own shadow. She’s had more bad dreams than anyone I’ve met. We’ve tried Monster Spray, Dreamcatchers, MP3 player, everything and anything to let her mind release whatever torment it holds. It’s exhausting and disheartening to see fear in such impressionable eyes.
Since my daughter was old enough to understand, I’ve told her stories to ease her worries and insert colorful images into her head. I think most of us have grown up with bedtime stories and goodnight kisses, maybe that’s where a writer’s love for words and make-believe comes from. It did for me. I remember hanging on to each and every word, and after my mom turned out the light, I would cinch my eyes and find my way back to whatever adventure she created. There were times when I didn't want to wake up.
My kids are obsessed with cats. So to send them off to dreamland, away from monsters and bad thoughts, I give them Jingle Bells.
Jingle Bells is a curious cat—surprise, surprise—with an affection for my kids and whole lot of trouble. So far Jingle Bells has followed them to school, rode the bus, gone to the crash up derby, and even donned roller skates. He wears a little bell around his neck and as soon as my kids hear his little Jingle they know it's time to have fun. It's not the most creative of stories, in fact, I'm sure it's a walking cliche, but seeing the looks in my children's eyes tells me differently.
Rambling on by the seat of my pants has never been more joyful as it is when story time comes around. I think we are so caught up in editing, writing, critiquing, and blogging we often lose sight of our number one audience. I may never see joy in my reader’s eyes like I do when I’m talking about Jingle Bells. A four or five star review is fantastic, but not the same as seeing my kids ecstatic about a story, we created together.
So, stepping away from your w.i.p.s and finished ‘scripts, I want to hear about your bedtime traditions. Do you have a favorite story you read or tell to your kids? Or do you have memories from childhood of someone planting the seeds of adventure with the simple string of words, “once upon a time . . .”?