Monday, April 04, 2005

the giant pancake and friends

back when i was young and foolish (yesterday), i thought putting a child to sleep was easy. or maybe just a bit harder than opening a refrigerator with your elbow and just a bit easier than trying to unscrew a bottle with hands covered in lotion.

when nephew juancho was a baby, it was so much simpler. all i had to do was sway for a few minutes while cradling him and humming a few verses of a lullaby.

confession: i hummed because i did not know the lyrics of ANY lullaby. justification for my ignorance disguised as a senseless challenge: recite a full verse of your favorite lullaby. important note: "crusin'" by gwyneth and huey does not count.

but now that he's almost 3 years old, putting juancho to sleep has been a challenge, to say the least. one effective but highly stressful method is what i like to call the "don't give in to the child's demands until he cries himself to sleep in your arms", accidentally discovered last december, when i didn't allow juancho to watch a THIRD barney vcd. we made peace when he woke up from that nap.

recently however, i have been using a new method. i now put him to sleep by telling him a customized-on-the spot story.

to keep him interested, i ask juancho about which characters to include and what they're supposed to do in the story (which makes me wonder if he even needs me to tell the tale). for instance, i'd ask, "this is a story about a gingerbread boy named . . . ?" and juancho will think for a second and reply with "gingerbread boy!!!" (which he pronounces as "dinderbed boy")

my most recent creation was about a giant pancake ("puncake"), a cockroach ("cockoowoats"), charlie the pig, spike the dog and juancho. as my nephew wasn't particularly sleepy that night, that particular fable turned into a classic epic, which included all the moral lessons you can think of. due to the story's unprecedented length, i was able to incorporate segments about properly asking for help when you need it, rescuing friends in trouble, welcoming new friends into a clique, thanking God for blessings, sharing and -- my favorite story chapter -- eating when you are hungry.

the real challenge that night was fighting the urge to give the story an honest-to-goodness twist, just to show what would've happened in the real world. that is, a real world where food items and animals maintained healthy friendships.

to illustrate, here's the actual story:

"i'm hungry," said charlie the pig. "so am i," said spike the dog. juancho said he was going to make sandwiches for all of them, and asked each friend what he wanted to eat. "i'm going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," said the cockroach.

. . . and so on. here's what would've really happened in a "real" alternate universe.

"i'm hungry," said charlie the pig. "so am i," said spike the dog. then everyone looked at the giant pancake and a wonderful realization slowly dawned on them . . .

the moral lessons of this blog entry:

1. do not let a 2-year-old choose your lead characters.

2. it is better to keep strange plots in your head than to make a nephew dysfunctional.

3. the longer the blog entry, the more important the real work you are trying to avoid.


Pasig Raver said...

riveting stuff. akala ko kakainin nila yung ipis. that's so third world.

Anonymous said...

parang naalala ko yung commercial ng chips ahoy... na after singing happy birthday to the chocolate chip cookie, he (it) asked, "where's the cake?" then all the guests stared at him (it). that's so violent and very disturbing even for an adult.


Kwis said...

charlie the pig?! bwahahahahaha.

diwatangbaguio said...

When my sisters and I were younger, we had a yaya named Gemma, who stayed with us for less than a year I think. Her impromptu psychedelic stories about dwendes and kapres and magical cakes that gave you power colored our sisters and I will never forget her. Thanks to your bedtime stories, I think Juancho will never forget you...

Orange de Guzman said...

Thanks Di! I'm glad no one told me about 'dwendes and kapres and magical cakes' when I was a child. I would've turned out to be an even bigger chicken.