Yesterday, Lydia brought me a stack of papers and dumped them in my lap.
“Oof, Lydia, What are these?”
“They are my book!” She bowed. “I wrote a new Paw Patrol story for Gideon, so we can read it to him at night.”
“Oh wow! Lydia, that is so sweet. You are such a creative and loving big sister.”
“Yeah,” she agreed humbly, “I guess so. Anyway, I drew the pictures, but I need you to write the words.”
“Okay, let me find a pen.”
The first page was a chaotic mess of colors. A rainbow-colored stairway rising into the sky surrounded by firework explosions.
“This page,” she said, “says, ‘There is a new Pup in the Paw Patrol! A Rainbow Pup named Green Lightning!”
“Whoa, You made up your own new member of the Paw Patrol? Cool. Okay…” I neatly wrote the narration.
Next was clearly an erupting volcano. “I want this to say, ‘Oh no, the volcano is going to erupt!’
I carefully printed the words, eager to find out where this story could be going.
“Then the next page is Rocky’s truck. It’s falling down a hill. This page says, ‘Rocky can’t make it!'”
I choked suddenly, “whoa whoa whoa, wait a second. Is Rocky okay? This is starting to sound kind of scary.”
“Nah, Rocky is fine… probably,” she waved away my concern like an irritating fly, “Just watch. Do the next page. Okay, so, this next page is a man with a cape and it says, ‘Uh oh… A Bad Guy is here!'”
“A bad guy now?”
“Yes, a bad guy. And then on the next page is another one. Make it say, ‘Two Bad Guys now!'”
“Two… bad… guys….. now. Got it.”
“Okay, you ready for this? Turn the page.”
I turned the page.
“Write, ‘OH NO! And now their’s another one! Three bad guys!'”
I sighed and obediently wrote the words. “Lydia. There are only two pages left. You have spent 3/4 of your book just adding more and more problems and bad guys and maybe-maybe not killing off Rocky the Recycle pup. How are you going to solve all of this in just two pages?”
She winked, “Oh, just watch. It’s great. So, look at the next page. See! Haha! Write, ‘Now the volcano really IS exploding!'”
I hesitated and then wrote the words.
“Turn the page now.”
I didn’t want to turn the page.
“Daddy, turn the page!”
When I didn’t, she leaned down and turned the page for me with a flourish, “Tada!” The last page was all in black. Coils of smoke and jagged mountains of erratic shapes filled the page, Black fire framed the paper from edge to edge. It was like an Apocalyptic vision of Michelangelo. “There.” She nodded.
“What?” I shook my head in confusion.
“There!” she pointed, “Write: The Paw Patrol cannot make it.”
I blinked. “Lydia, I can’t read this story to Gideon. It’s a very… interesting story, but I think it will confuse him. Can’t you write about something nice happening?”
“No no no!” she insisted, all too sweetly, “It’s okay. I’m just still working on it. There will be more, really. I think this will just be the beginning maybe.” She motioned towards the stack of papers behind her on the desk. She clearly was not anticipating me to be disappointed.
I looked back down at the paper and wrote the words. “Okay. Let me know when you have more of the story because I would love to know how the Paw Patrol pups are able to escape this situation.”
“Okay,” she laughed, “I’ll just keep working on it.”
I watched her leave, with a strange sense of pride mixed with dread.
The next morning I was helping Gideon out of his Paw Patrol pajamas when I asked him, “Who are you today, Gideon? Are you Rubble the construction pup? Marshall the fire dog?”
“Yes!” he cheered, “Me all of them! Me like all the pups!” and then he stared at the wall for a moment, quietly thinking about something. Finally, he said, “Well… not ALL the pups. Me not like Green Lighting the Rainbow pup.”
“Uh huh.” I stuffed a clean shirt over his head and turned to leave the room, “Lyyyydiiaaaa!”