This phrase, said in a low, whispery, spooky voice, is repeated all day long lately at our house. The new favorite past-time is making up stories (a girl following in her momma's footsteps, apparently), and it's a family affair. I snuggle up with Reed on my lap, and Lilah and Grady climb onto the couch too. Lilah usually begins, with her oft-repeated intro, and then passes the torch to me when she gets stuck. Grady contributes too - mostly with dramatic facial expressions, and occasionally repeating a word his sister or I say during the story. Reed just giggles at his siblings, trying to grab at their hair (or their snacks, as the case might be. The boy has barely started eating oatmeal and sweet potatoes, but a bag of Pirate Booty looks awfully appealing to him).
Most of the stories follow the same plot line, usually with Lilah and Grady as the key players, and are anything but scary in the end. Here is, as close as I can remember it, a transcript of one of our impromptu "ghost stories" from today:
Lilah: A long, long time ago, on a dark and stormy night, some little children decided to go trick-or-treating. They dressed in their costumes and went outside.
Me: What were their costumes?
Lilah: The little boy, who was named Grady, was a cowboy. And the little girl, Lilah, was a princess.
Me: Ooooh, good costumes. Then what happened.
Lilah: They walked down the street with their trick-or-treat bags and got lots of candy. But then! Momma, you tell it.
Me: But then, they saw a house they hadn't visited yet. It was at the end of a long, crooked driveway. It was very dark and spooky.
Lilah: It was a haunted house!
Me: Yes, it was a haunted house. They climbed up the steps to the porch and knock, knock, knocked on the door. No one answered. So they rang the doorbell, ding-dong! And no one answered. But the big door creaked open. Then what happened, Lilah?
Lilah: They saw a big, big, tall stairs that they had to climb. And at the top - oh no! There were great, glowing eyes shining. They didn't know what they were. So they climbed the creaky stairs. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. There were twelve stairs. And when they got to the top, they turned on a light.
Me: Oh no! What was there! A scary ghost?
Lilah: No, Momma, it wasn't a scary ghost. It was just a little, teeny, tiny black cat.
Lilah: It didn't know where its mommy and daddy were, so Lilah and Grady decided to take it home and help it find its mommy and daddy. And they lived happily ever after.
Me: That was a great story.
Lilah: It was. Can we tell it again?
The best part is Lilah's dramatic storytelling voice. I seriously have to hold in giggles the whole time we are telling the story. She's always a drama llama, and it really comes out when we are telling stories or playing imaginary games. I really wish I had a video camera, I would love to record these moments to show them when they are surly teenagers who don't want to talk to me anymore.
This proves, once again, that it really is the simple things that provide the most entertainment. Whether it's a cardboard box, a paper towel roll, or just an active imagination, you can truly create magic with little ones with minimal effort and basically no cost. Try it today, and I would love to hear your collaborative stories with your children!