Since the day my wife got pregnant with our first son, I have dreamed about sitting around the table with him, rolling dice, and telling stories about dragons, goblins, and hidden treasure. Each year since then (he is three now) I size up his dungeoneering readiness: Talking? CHECK. Short-term memory? Check. Ridiculously long attention span? Uhh…
After his third birthday, it finally seemed like a possibility. He’s already telling his own dramatic tales about his favorite cartoon characters. And he has his very own set of dice (which he throws behind the couch whenever I give them to him).
A few weeks ago, I decided to embark on a little experiment. I had already begun making up stories to tell him at nighttime. Generally they involved a main character with a first name cleverly nicked from his own (Masher, Nasher, Basher, etc.) who gets into misadventures at the local vegetable market.
This time, I added a twist. When the story began, “Nasher” awoke in the castle bored out of his mind. He went to his father and asked for something to do. His father gave him three choices: defeat the dragon terrorizing the local township, feed the animals in the stable, or rescue a princess trapped in a tower.
I then prompted my son with “What should Nasher do?”
Without any hesitation, he excitedly shouted: “Rescue the princess!”
(at this point I am fairly confident his mother fled downstairs to clean up, knowing full-well I was in for the long haul.)
Since he was going to rescue the princess, he (of course) needed to gear-up for the journey. “On his bedroom wall, there is a bow and arrow, a shiny sword, and a shield. What should he take?”
“The shiny sword!”
It went on like this, all the way through to the end. He needed food for his journey, and could choose between three items (his choice: Swiss cheese). He needed a trusty steed (he chose a zebra). There were obstacles to overcome (a river, a talking owl, and scaling the tower).
Finally, he had to face the Troll who had kidnapped the princess. He decided to run through his legs, grab the princess, and then he turned to face the Troll, glowing sword in hand. The scary troll yelped in fear and turned around and ran down the steps of the tower (this elicited a well-timed cackle and ear-to-ear smile form my son).
The princess hopped onto the zebra behind him, and they road back to the castle, where exhausted, Nasher fell fast asleep.
And right on cue, my son snuggled up against his pillow, and placed his pacifier in his mouth.
I’m thinking the dice might take another year to make an appearance. Although, I have an idea on how to quicken the pace on that one. But that’s for another day…