Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bedtime Stories

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When my friend’s son, Tanner, was about four years old, I started telling him bedtime stories. I don’t remember how this little tradition came to be, it just did. Tanner would burrow down deep into his blankets and watch me with silent, shining eyes; he’d anxiously wait to find out what adventures we’d find ourselves embarking upon, as the shadows in the room danced about us like a kaleidoscope.

There would nearly always be two or three adventures each evening. Sometimes these escapades were spooky, and at other times they were funny. In fact, They included just about everything you could possibly imagine…even a magical bus (yes, shamefully carjacked from Ms. Frizzle) which would take Tanner and his family on the most wonderful adventures where they were attacked by licorice wolves, fell into time vortexes, were offered up as sacrifices to the volcano gods by the pig people, and were even once taken hostage by an old man who lived atop the Mashed-Potato Mountain who planned on turning them all into gravy.

Pure awesomeness.

I looked forward to telling these tales every time I went to visit, because I’d never know what was going to happen next in the story; that was for Tanner to control. Periodically I’d stop and ask, “So, Tanner, what happens next?” It was at this point that Tanner would think for a second, and then add the next twist to the plot, meaning the story might take a completely different turn altogether. We both loved these stories, the stories we wrote together.

It was always a lot of fun.

Over the years on subsequent visits, Tanner just couldn’t seem to wait until bedtime so that I would tell him another trove of endless chronicles; one storyline melding into the other, turning them into one continuous saga spanning over the years all the way back to when he was just four years old.

What can I say? Stories can be captivating.

This year, Tanner turned eleven. It’s now been seven years since that first night I started to tell him bedtime stories; and this past week, I found myself driving up to their house for a weekend visit. Tanner and his brothers were excited that I had come to visit and I went along to watch them at football practice, cheered them on while fishing at the reservoir, took part as we shot rifles out in the desert, motorcycled across the landscape of the Transcontinental Railroad, and sat outside watching the Perseid—meteors blazing across a blackened ocean with fiery trails igniting the nighttime sky.

I won’t lie. This past weekend I started to wonder just what would happen to bedtime stories now with Tanner beginning intermediate school. Like I said before, he’s growing up…and I didn’t know what to expect the first night I was there.

10:45 P.M.

The boys were told to get ready for bed. As they headed downstairs to brush teeth and climb into pajamas, Tanner cried out, “But I still haven’t had bedtime stories yet!”

My heart just about melted.

That night, the downstairs glowed with the power of imagination as we embarked on yet another journey to the far-reaches of outer space—this time joined by Tanner’s little brother, Braden, for the first time.

After nearly thirty minutes of adventures, I bid the boys goodnight and turned off the lights. I stood by the door for a second or two in thought. I wondered just how much longer Tanner would want me to tell him these bedtime stories. Would it be another few months? A year? Three years?

Time would undoubtedly tell.

My mind careened reminiscently over the span of moments thus far. I could only wonder just what fate had in store. It was then that the question I’ve been diligently asking for the past seven years came to mind—and I realized that from this point on, it would be entirely up to Tanner. However, even when the bedtime stories do end—which they undoubtedly one day will—we will continue to write different adventures together and the journey will continue

I now find myself posing the selfsame question: “So, Tanner, what happens next?”



BTW, I am posting over today over at Four Perspectives with An Open Letter.

28 comments:

tammy said...

Love this. I bet it's awhile yet before he thinks he's too old. And I also think it's a tradition he'll carry on with his own kids one day.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

How sweet!.. U evidently have made a deep impression on Tanner...I always found my friend's parents pretty cool, they always seemed to have better ideas, cook better meals, tell jokes better... why is it?
Now, I will certainly wonder if in 15 years u are still going over there (possibly) to his own home and he asks for a bed time story....somehow a deep whiney voice asking for a bed time story could be a bit scary.... *wink, wink*

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Probably the fact that you're a visitor will help it last longer. After all, he "won't want to hurt Mr. Z's feelings" when you visit. ;)

Kristina P. said...

This is so sweet! And I love that picture. Perfect.

Rachel said...

I would suppose that the gift of bedtime story telling started when you were a boy and you read to your bother! I mean, brother. ;)

I know some Native's who would love a good betime story if the urge should arise and there's no one to listen. You could even do the story via skype! :D Technology! Love it.

It's hard having our kids grow up and certain things that we love to do with them, they grow out of but as you say, new adventures are around the bend and they will be just as exciting.

Corine said...

That was great! I love how kids hold on to things and keep letting themselves be kids beyond the years we would expect them to. I have many such similar memories that melt my heart... thanks to wonderful kids. :)

Omgirl said...

I'm so relieved that he still wanted the bedtime stories. I was afraid your story would end badly. Hooray for childhood!

T said...

this is the kind of story that makes me hate that my kids are growing up so fast...

Cheeseboy said...

My guess is forever. But he won't admit it when he's 15.

I love telling stories too. My first graders usually would rather me tell them a story than read them a story. I am not sure that is a good thing, but it us sure more fun.

Natasha said...

How fun. Hopefully the stories last for a long while longer. Everybody loves a good story...

Vanessa said...

You do tell good stories!

Cherie said...

This is really quite touching and so neat. I know that, not only will you and Tanner always and forever have a wonderful bond, but he will never forget these stories.
You've added to his childhood by leaps and bounds.
Glad you came over to my blog to say "Hi" - I've seen you on several blogs I visit. I'm your newest follower!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

That is perfect. You are correct, he is connected to you and wants your time. Stories will turn to memories and advice on life and the bond will stay.

Siggy said...

It is so endearing to see your friends children love you when you are single(assuming that you are, ha)...this post is also a sweet tribute to those cute little angels. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

He won't ever get tired of your stories...I didn't.

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

My bet is that even when the story telling ends, it will turn into perhaps late night conversations. It sounds like there is a bond for life between you two.

Can you teach me how to make sparkly, magic stars while story telling? My boys would love it so. :)

Connie said...

The picture alone takes me to a place of pure imagination, excitement and adventure. You must have a gift for story telling. Have you thought of participating in the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival? You'd be surprised how many people who love those stories are over the age of 4! :D

tiburon said...

I am so bummed that glitter doesn't come out of my hands when I tell stories.

I am so glad he still wanted your stories too - I was getting worried there for a minute...

Richard & Natalie said...

I smell a book collaboration between you two; a "choose your own adventure" story sounds about right.

What a really sweet story and you know sparkly pictures are my favorite.

M-Cat said...

What a great tradition that he will surely carry on to his own kids.

My brother was like that. We would sleep outside and I would ask for a story and he would just create something until I fell asleep.

Fond memories!

Jenny said...

I love bed time stories. My son and I spend many nights reading together. I love that time as they settle under the covers await with such anticipation for the adventure to begin. I have not been creative enough to make up my own stories. We love to read them.

The photo is truly amazing.

Mamma has spoken said...

My adult sons tell me they miss bed-time story times too. My guess is never too.

Teachinfourth said...

Y - Sparkly stars just come with the territory…and Photoshop.

Hazen said...

As Tanner's mom I can say Tanner will never outgrow the bedtime stories! Although as another has pointed out I'm sure in the not too distant future he may not always admit to that :-) Jason you have such an amazing talent for telling these stories and you captivate their imaginations and hearts every time! They love to tell their friends about the stories and there have been so many times that we are driving somewhere and Tanner will look out the window and say something like, "look mom that looks like Mashed Potato Mountain!" It's pricless and I know he treasures it more than you will ever know. I think the tradition will continue for years to come as it has already started with Brayden and in a couple years I'm sure Kyle will join in on the bed for the stories as well. We look forward to many more stories and I LOVE the picture! We love ya!

Marnie said...

You have given this boy really happy memories. He will always remember you as being forever cool. The picture couldn't have been more perfect...bedazzling!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

I love photoshop! It's my friend, even though I secretly think it hates me for being to cheap to upgrade to CS.

But I love when you write like this. So magical!

Amanda-The Nutritionist Reviews said...

Aww how cute!

I found you through Survey Junkie's Linkup! Have a great weekend.

Shannon said...

Every kid should have their own personal story teller/sharer - someone who is not their parent - someone who sees things in a completely different light from the child's day to day existence...someone who perceives things in magical modes....someone just like you.

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