Quite recently, my four-year-old (the increasingly infamous “B-Dub”) has become enamored of the idea of stories — not just stories you watch or read at bedtime, but the kind of stories we speak aloud and… y’know, just make up. Pulling silly, weird, absurd, even scary things right out of the air — catching them like curious birds and then cupping your hands around them and pulling back one finger at a time to reveal the strange and squirming beast you have made captive.
He wants me to tell him stories, as kids often do of their parents, and because I am both a) interested in his creative development and b) a fundamentally lazy human being, I decided to instead include him in the storytelling act. I don’t just want him to sit passively as I tell him stories; I want him to co-create. I explain to him that it’s his dime and he might as well get the stories he wants — and so before I begin the (usually very short) story, I ask him who the story is about and what’s the situation. Like improv, except with a kooky preschooler who frequently likes to include “poop” and “toots” in the narrative arrangement. The most interesting thing, perhaps, is not just that he helps me tell the story — but if you keep leading him down the road with questions, eventually he ends up telling the story himself.
As such, we’ve developed a rotating cast of regular characters which he has named (and to some degree invested with personality): Detectives Baloney and Hair; their robotic dog, Hamslice; the protective and kind forest monster; Pinky the Bigfoot; another dog named Blue; an animated chair named, duh, Chair; Spot, the Ladybug (also occasionally called Dottie); Snowball, the animated snowball who has a propensity to kill zombies by shooting snowballs from its body; Leafy, a giant talking leaf; Daddy Long-Legs, a spider who everyone thought was a bad guy but is actually a good guy; and Steppy Stone, who is for some reason a stepping stone that talks? Just go with it.
Anyway — so, hey, it’s Father’s Day, right? (Happy Father’s Day to all of you DADs out there with your HOT DADBODS and your CHARCOAL GRILLS and your SKEET SHOOTING and your incompetent portrayal on American TV commercials!) My wife, my wonderful wife, my glorious wife, my amazing wife, went ahead and actually had B-Dub draw up all of his famous little characters and then she bound those drawings together with needle and thread which means holy shit my son wrote his first book.
No, it’s not going to land on any bestseller lists — but hey, neither have I. (Which reminds me hey ha ha ha preorder ZER0ES or I’ll scream.) But it’s amazing and creative and weird and frankly the kid will probably out-sell me in a hot New York minute. I actually don’t know what a hot New York minute is, but I’m guessing it smells like hot dog water and humid, aerosolized rat urine.
I mean, damn, check out the sheer rumpled ruination — the bedraggled world-weariness! — of Detective Hair, pictured above. I want that guy solving my murder, okay? I’m just saying.
And now, another round of:
Things B-Dub Has Said (No Context For You)
– “Sometimes it’s good to do things yourself. But it’s okay to ask for help, too.”
– (on creating a new “game”): “You smell R2D2. Then R2D2 hides. Then you have to smell where he’s hiding.”
– “I’m Blood Spider-Man. I shoot blood. And I drink blood, too. I mean, what else would I drink? Webs? Yuck that sounds awful.”
– “Nobody knows what Wonder Woman eats. Ultron gives you a rash. Iron Man heals it with his Boo-Boo Gun.”
– “I’LL make the cuckoo. YOU make the clock. Let’s go.”
– “I’LL CENSOR THE WEINER.”
– “I WILL BE A FROST GIANT AND I WILL PUNCH HOMES AND OFFICES.”
– “I AM MOPBOT 3000. I PEED MY PANTS. GOODNIGHT MOPPO BOTTO.”
– “Girls can play with trucks, too,” he said, irritated at a commercial for toy trucks aimed at boys.
– “That guy pooped out a monkey, and the monkey pooped out a snake.”
– “If I eat a ton of coconuts, I will become COCONUT MAN.”
– “You Should Give A Cat A Hot Dog And It Will Walk Behind You Forward Or Backward,” he said, deciding that this needs to be a children’s book he should either write or read.
– “Darth Vader is Han Solo’s father.”
– “Daddy? “Yes?” “Do Transformers poop?” #toughcosmicquestions
– “They have hard energon poops,” he said moments later, answering his own question.
– My wife: “It’s time to sit down now and read. Or we can just go to bed.” B-Dub: “Fine. I will sit here on this PILE OF NONSENSE.”
– Him: “Do you want a Cheezit?” Me: “Sure.” Him: “I’ll repulsor-blast one over to you!”
– “I built a laser gun. It shoots lasers, missiles, syrup, and bees. But not all at once.”
– As a morning greeting: “Looks like we’re all powered up with BEES!”