Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Most Boring Bedtime Stories EVER.

Well, Kyle finally cracked. It was bound to happen, I just wasn't sure how much he could take. After a week of intentionally boring him with the most mundane bedtime stories a father has ever told his child, Kyle has requested that I either start reading him books or tell him some REAL stories.

This all started last week when I was telling a co-worker about my kid's bedtime routine (I know, I know, but I'm his boss so he has to listen and pretend like he's interested). I was telling him about how Kyle usually gives me a theme for a story and I make something up. It usually involves some superheroes doing crazy stunts. And my co-worker asked me, "Doesn't that get him kinda worked up? How is he able to go to sleep after that?". And it got me thinking... maybe that's why it's always such a struggle to keep him in bed after I leave the room. And so it started – a week of the absolute most boring bedtime stories that have ever been told.

I've dabbled in this before with such stories as The Hulk Hosts a Dinner Party and The Flash Visits the DMV, but that was really just for my own amusement. Plus, those stories at least had some dialog, a plot, and some mild excitement. This new batch of boring bedtime stories was on a whole new level, with titles like, Superman Sits in the Waiting Room at His Doctor's Office, Spiderman Waits at a Red Light, and Batman Looks at Clouds.

These stories last about 10 minutes each, so I'm not going to subject you to a full story, but I thought you might appreciate this excerpt...

Me: On his way into the doctor's office, Superman held the door for an older man who must have been there to visit the same doctor. It was only after he let the man pass that he realized how very slow he was moving. That's okay, he thought. Afterall, he had gotten there a few minutes early. So the very slow man made his way to the sign-in counter with Superman walking just behind him. Step-by-step. Step... by... step.

Kyle: Yeah, and then the old man turned into Dr. Doom and started fighting Superman!

Me: Nope. Actually, the old man just signed in and slowly walked into the waiting area. Then Superman signed in and made his way to the waiting area as well. Superman decided to sit on the other side of the room in a seat that didn't face the old man so that the old man didn't feel the need to make small talk with him. He looked at the clock on the wall. It was now 5 minutes past his scheduled appointment time. Superman began to wonder where the doctor might be.

Kyle: Oh! He was probably tied up in the back room by Lex Luthor or some other bad guy!

Me: No, he was just helping some other patients and filling out some paperwork. For now, Superman would just have to sit quietly and wait. He looked down on the floor near his chair and saw a basket with some tattered magazines in it. One was about fishing. The other was about cars. The other one looked like some kind of financial magazine. Superman wasn't interested in any of these, so he decided to sit and do nothing while he waited. He looked at the clock again. The minute hand hadn't moved at all... or maybe it had just a little. Yeah, maybe just a tiny bit.

Kyle: Oh, I know! The clock was broken because Superman shot laser beams from his eyes at it!

Me: I don't think so. Time was just moving very, very slowly.

...and this goes on and on until the nurse tells Superman that the doctor wants him to wait in a different room for a while. And then the story is over.

Every night I would try to make his story more boring than the night before. And I was getting worried that it just wasn't possible. On the other hand, Kyle was telling me that he loved the stories, and his after hours getting-out-of-bed antics weren't changing. So I decided to blast him with An Ordinary Man Watches Dust Collect on a Picture Frame. And this is what finally put Kyle over the edge.

On every other night, I could see that Kyle was fidgeting, and he was waiting for something exciting to happen. But he always let me finish and then thanked me for the story and said that he loved it (which felt kinda patronizing to me but whatever). However, on this night Kyle stopped me mid-story and said "Dad, I like these stories, but their just kinda long. Can you tell me a story about superheroes doing cool stuff, or maybe we just read a book?".

And so, I learned two things from our little experiment:

1. It doesn't matter what kind of story I tell Kyle, he's still going to get out of bed.
2. This kid's got more patience, tact, and class than I'll ever have.

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