Thursday, January 17, 2008

Exercise Your Creativity Somewhere Else, Please

I've been tweaking the girls' bedtime routine lately and I thought I'd finally come across something that, for now at least, had the desired calming effect on them. I used to tell them stories about my childhood and sing them a song, but there are only so many childhood stories I can remember. And the pressure was always on because the stories had to be "funny". I'd finish a story and the girls would either be cackling with laughter, the opposite effect I'm trying to achieve at bedtime, or they'd stare at me blankly before giving me the bad news, "Dad, that wasn't funny." Then they'd whine and beg and plead for another, funnier, story. So for now, stories are out.

A few weeks ago I began writing words, one letter at a time (duh, that's how you usually write 'em), on Kailey's back. I'd write a letter and she'd guess what it was until she could decipher the message, usually in the vain of close your eyes and go to sleep or there will be hell to pay, but sweeter. One night Kailey asked me to draw a picture on her back.

"Ummm, OK. What do you want me to draw?"

"A unicorn chasing a butterfly."

She'd been thinking about that one for awhile. Now if she had asked me to draw that on paper, there would've been no frickin' way. I'd try, of course, but it would most likely elicit a response not dissimilar to my unfunny bedtime stories. But she didn't. She wanted me to draw on her back with my index finger, which is magic, by the way, and that night I created the most breathtaking unicorn and butterfly in the history of unicorns and butterflies. Rembrandt's jaw would have dropped in awe. Picasso would have shat. And Michaelangelo would have put down his brushes and walked away. It was that good. And the best part of all? It practically put her to sleep!

Each night we've been mixing it up, from back messages (not to be confused with back massages), to back drawing, to face tracing, where we, yes, trace each others' faces. Last night was face tracing night, and Kailey wanted me to go beyond the normal face trace and push the limits of my face tracing creativity. So I made her a clown. I traced all of her facial features the way I normally do, then added a big red smiley face to to match the big red nose. I gave her those high, arching eyebrows and freckles, a flowing curly pink wig, and topped it all off with a green bow tie. Voilà!

Kailey asked if she could have a turn. Who am I to turn down a good face trace. So she sat up and went to work immediately on my eyes, giving me those long, luxurious lashes that most women would kill for. She rouged my cheeks, lipsticked my lips, and for the pièce de résistance, gave me two humongous, sagging breasts followed by two tiny nipples. Then she collapsed in a fit of riotous laughter. I just grinned and shook my head.

"What? I was just being creative!"

Looks like I'm back to the drawing board on that bedtime routine.


A Musing Mom said...

Very creative! Your story telling routine made me think of a tradition I started to keep the kids awake at naptime during the ride home from Grandma's (about a 20 minute trip). I would make up stories about them at Disney World. These days it's them living at American Girl Place. Their story requests are so formulaic that I sometimes regret ever starting the tradition. And any time I try to add plot twists or suspense they riot on me. No more danger of falling asleep before getting home these days, but I'm still stuck telling stories. I like your idea of drawing on their backs - but I don't think that will work in the car.

A Musing Mom said...

If you're up for a meme on books, I've tagged you.

the battered ham said...

I'm up for it...and keep those hands on the wheel!