Telling a story to Isabella is a challenging, interactive experience. It’s like the “progressive” story that a group of us writers wrote at a convention this weekend in which each person writes one or two sentences, then passes it to the next person to add to it. By the end, you have a story -- a confusing, disjointed mess of a story, but a story nonetheless.
I always let Isabella jump in with details when I'm telling a story because I like that she’s participating. I worry a little about this because she sometimes doesn’t handle situations well in which events don’t go as she expects them to, and allowing the story to go only in the direction that she wants might be teaching her the wrong lesson. Be that as it may, I like her using her imagination (as long as it doesn’t start crowding out reality, another concern).
Who knows? Maybe someday she’ll be a writer -- a writer of dark, somewhat twisted tales. For example, I remember a while back where there was a rash of decapitation stories. Yes, that kind of decapitation, the kind where someone’s head gets lopped off. Not too many children’s books out there really focusing on decapitation, I’d guess.
Another example occurred just yesterday, when I had the good guys defeat the bad witch by tricking her into eating a coconut pie that was sprinkled with sleep powder (don’t ask). As soon as the witch was asleep and everyone was safe, Isabella jumped in.
“And they threw the witch in the fire and burned her up.”
“The witch?” I asked, wanting to be sure that I understood.
“Yep. They burned her up and she died.”
Oh, okay. Some pretty harsh justice there. Another recent story had a monster make an unexpected appearance and eat someone. I don’t remember who got eaten, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t deserve it. They don’t all involve death, though. The most innocuous story yesterday was about the guy who somehow ate his way out of a pile of coconuts that fell on him and buried him. He was safe until Isabella jumped in as the storyteller. He just got diarrhea (lucky guy).
As a writer, I suppose it’s a good exercise for me too. She’s like a boxing coach who pops up a padded hand at a random time and place so that the boxer can hit it. She does that but with plot points. I connect those dots, but sometimes, it’s not pretty. She doesn’t seem to care.