Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Story Owain Made Up

Owain is five and he spends many of his waking hours making up exciting stories in his head. He is going to hit his Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours by about age 11. I ask him about his stories all the time and they almost seem to be organized by book and chapter. We had "The Story That Never Ends with the Baddies That Never Stop Coming." That was painfully derivative material (scooby doo and power rangers) , but, when he acted the storied going on in his head out, I found a real difference in the character's voices and a burgeoning ability to create a conflict, move the plot forward to a climax and resolve the story.

The Baddies That Never Stop Coming were like the Crazy 88 from Kill Bill - fast, plentiful and likely to jump out at you from anywhere. He saw this story so clearly that he really had trouble paying attention at school. You would too if you were about to be attacked by Dark Rai or perhaps a giant brown bear.

His latest one is much calmer - it's called Baby Animals and the backstory is as follows. One day while Owain and Daddy were playing on the beach in Florida, a vast tribe of invisible baby animals spotted them and decided to live with them and let them be their new owners. The baby animals had been mistreated by their earlier owners (mistreating = they were not allowed to watch Ben 10 and they had never been to the cinema) and had been on a trek through Paris, Africa, the jungle and Central Park in New York City. (I unashamedly brainwash him on Paris, New York and other cities being great - I have to counteract my husband) Anyway, there are ten of each kind of animal in the world - theoretically -- the tens that have featured so far have been baby jaguars, eagles, mice, tigers, cheetahs and turtles. One of the tigers is named Stripe. When we drive anywhere, I get an update on which baby animals are sleeping on my head or in my pocket.

Owain also comes up with these gorgeous cinematic pictures: on the way to school one morning, he told me that they were all fanned out behind us in a huge V that stretched halfway down the road, some flying, some running, the turtles crawling as fast as they could. That day, the baby mice kept tickling my ankles.

On Friday we were playing hide and seek (with the baby animals, we do many things with them) and when I thought it was Owain's turn, he decided it would be Stripe's instead. So we counted to twenty-five and let him hide, which to me seemed an unfair advantage, since he is invisible already.

And now the story:

When we opened our eyes to look around, Owain pointed at the chimney and said that maybe Stripe went up there. We sent the baby mice up - well, in the end only one was brave enough to go up - but by the time the mice got down to report, Stripe had got away. Owain pointed out that since Stripe was so fast, we had to send a baby cheetah to track him. We sent one, but the cheetah didn't get very far. Suddenly, we saw a blur as Stripe climbed up the sleeve of Owain's dressing gown - which involved quite a perilous jump --and then gave a wild flying leap into a cluttered corner of toys. We decided that he was such a good hider - and, again, invisible -- we would have to figure out where he was hiding like it was a riddle.

"He likes to go to new places, Mummy."

We discussed it and then Owain then found Stripe hidden inside Owain's rolled up map of the world. He had been looking at the map to find new adventures and had fallen asleep.

After we found Stripe we took a break from Hide and Seek so I could order the pizza.

I know I'm his mother and would love to be a playwright more than anything in this world but I still think this is a pretty good story.

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