“There was a little boy who lived next door to a farm. He used to visit the farm every day and play with the animals. He wouldn’t even go home for lunch – he’d just go pick something in the garden, carrots and tomatoes and cucumbers. He’d be filthy dirty by evening.
A beagle lived there he’d play with, and chickens, cows and two pigs named Pat and Mike.”
“Was this little boy you?”
“Is this another lie?”
“Ok. Keep going.”
“Pat and Mike liked raspberries. The boy would pick some, put them on his shovel and slide them in to the pigs. They also liked to have their backs scratched with a rake.
Then the little boy got older and went to school. The pigs missed him. They asked around and found out where his school was.
One day the little boy was sitting there in class, and noticed a pig was looking in the window at him. He couldn’t believe it, because the window was rather high up. He went over and looked out, and saw that Pat was standing on Mike’s back, looking in.”
“So after that Pat and Mike visited him in school quite often. They were well-behaved so the teacher let them lie on the floor under the little boy’s desk. At recess he rode them around the playground like horses, and they carried him home in the afternoon too – one carried the little boy, the other carried his books.
There was a bigger boy at school, who used to pick on the little boy, pushing him around and stuff. Pat and Mike saw this, and they chased the bully around, roughed him up a little, and after that he was nice to the little boy.”
“Heh. Is that all?”
“Tell me another lie.”
I’ve said it before, parents trying to get their children to sleep – that is the birth of myth and literature. Making them sleep, getting them to do something when a logical explanation isn’t enough. Beta, who is now 12, always accepted a logical argument. If you could defend your reasoning, she’d usually accept it. Neither daughter is crazy about authority. Gamma doesn’t even care about logic.
And she doesn’t like to sleep. When she was an infant, we had a CD of baby-relaxation music that sounded like a music box on valium mixed with gently chirping birds and soothing harp arpeggios. She’d hear that and her eyes would be wide open. For a while, I could only make her sleep if I turned on the Pogues, loud, and danced around with her.
This week she’s sick with a high fever. Last night her mother was exhausted from taking care of her all day, and so I tried to put her to sleep. I explained that sleep gave her body the opportunity to repair itself and heal.
“But I can’t close my eyes.”
“Because I’m sick. Tell me another story. I don’t want to be alone.”
Storybooks were only making her more alert, because she knew they were supposed to make her sleep, so I made one up about going to the zoo with my little brother as a kid and the monkeys stealing him and he had to live at the zoo for three days in the monkey cage. And another one about my mother losing her wedding ring while working in the vegetable garden, and finding it three weeks later around a carrot. And then losing it again out fishing, and finding it in the belly of a fish.
After that, miraculously, she was relaxed enough to let me go downstairs. I claimed I had to clean the kitchen, but in fact had a cup of tea with her mother.