Thursday, December 07, 2006

Three Wishes and One Too Many Shaggy Dogs

Most of the improvisational stories I tell Lucia have simple plots. I learned early on that Lucia was less concerned with what the characters did than what their names were and what they wore. Originally, I distracted a howling Lucia in the bathtub by telling her about her dolly Pepper’s eleven brothers and sisters. I gave them all flower names, i.e. Hyacinth, Carnation, Lily-of-the-Valley, et al, and Lucia supplied them with differently colored capes. When Pepper’s numerous siblings go swimming, they all have to have water-wings, flippers, snorkeling gear and spectacular bathing suits. These shaggy-dog tales I tell have made bath-time much more endurable.

Bedtime is a different story, literally. As much as Lucia would like for me to tell long, sprawling anecdotes about Pepper, Queen Cleopatra, Princess Saffron (Pepper’s auntie and mother of Salt) and Simon the Wizard, I want to move the bedtime ritual along so that I have the evening for my grown-up time. Again, they are not big on plot, but they serve the purpose for which I intend. Here is a story I often tell Lucia:

One day, Cleopatra decided to go fishing on her barge. She dropping the fishing line over the side of the barge and waited for a fish to bite. Very soon, she felt a tug on the line. “That must be a fish!” Cleopatra said. She pulled up the line, but instead of a fish, there was a bottle attached to the end of the line.

Cleopatra opened the bottle. Out popped a fairy. “Thank you for freeing me, Cleopatra!” the fairy said. “In thanks, I will grant you three wishes. What is your first wish?”
[Lucia replies: “A mermaid dolly!”]
“You shall have your mermaid dolly,” the fairy said. “What is your second wish?”
[Lucia: A hat!”]
“Here is your hat,” the fairy said, and gave Cleopatra a purple hat with a red feather. “What is your third wish?”
[Lucia: “Two scepters!”]
“Here you are,” the fairy said, presenting Cleopatra with one gold scepter and one silver scepter.

“Now that I have granted you three wishes, I shall fly about the world to see what I’ve missed,” the fairy said. Cleopatra sailed her barge home, then played with her mermaid dolly, wore her hat, and waved around her two scepters. She told her friends all about the fairy and the three wishes, and they thought that maybe they too would find a fairy trapped in a bottle. However, when they went out fishing in the Nile River, all they ever found in the water was fish.

The End

Left to right: Cleopatra the Queen, Simon the Wizard, Marie the Mermaid, Lucia the Girl

Yesterday, Lucia found a Playmobil mermaid dolly in the shoe she had placed by the fireplace for St. Nicholas’s visit. Throughout the day, she looked affectionately at the dolly, newly named Marie, and said, “It’s on your wish-list!” When Lucia gets older, she'll learn those folktales about the fallacies of wishing for too much, a la "Fisherman and His Wife," and all its derivatives. For now, her wishes are tangible and reasonable.


Nonny said...

That is soooo sweet. My little guy loves his action figures and little cars, he insists on sleeping with them every night. I love to peek around the corner and listen to him talk to them. He usually just regurgitates things I've said to him, but it is still adorable.

Lady K said...

What a GREAT story and a great picture! I LOVE it!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Nonny: Your guy is storytelling! Hurrah for him.

Lady K: Thanks! My favorite part about the story is that Lucia came up with the wishes on her own.

Lone Star Ma said...

That's so sweet!

jp said...

Great story! Do you crazy Americans really spell sceptre scepter?!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

JP: Thanks! And yes, it really is crazy how Americans spell "scepter." We also don't put an "f" in "lieutenant." Wait a minute, neither do the Brits! So why is "lieutenant" pronounced "leftenant?" Crazy languages everywhere....