Friday, November 09, 2007

Let me tell you a tale of the upper Midwest ...

Pete has started to love "stories,"
whether established (we can struggle through a passable Goldilocks or
Three Little Pigs) or made up. I've been using a formula I think I got
from Adam Gopnik's brilliant essay "The Rookie" (about
telling stories to his son): make the main character like the kid and
throw a bunch of obstacles in for drama. Every evening, Little Petey
Fish tries to make it up a stream to find a sandwich (obstacles: log
and rapids, overcome by alliances with frog and salmon, respectively).
Or, in a Carolyn creation, Pete gets a family of ducks off a runway
using duck food from the zoo, thus rescuing a family vacation. Pete
loves this stuff, to the extent that stories even capture his attention
and calm him when he's really upset about something (e.g., having to
get out of the bath). Last week, Carolyn told me she had asked Pete
to tell his own story, but he just named a bunch of things from our
stories--the ducks and so on. Said Carolyn, in totally unironic
disappointment, "It was completely derivative." Little Petey
Fish meets a tough crowd!

During Carolyn's current absence, Pete understands perfectly that
Carolyn is in a place called Cleveland "running a
convention"--a phrase he has allowed me not to explain very
thoroughly. I hope this week doesn't give him a lasting,
little-understood aversion to northern Ohio.

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