Last September 11, I wrote here about safety and danger and 9/11, etc. Then a little while later I went upstairs to tuck Daryl into bed.
“I love you, Mama,” he said. “Can I have a cuddle?” He still asks this every night. And my answer is typically the same. “Of course you can.” I’ll take these cuddles as long as I can.
As I lay down next to him, though, it became obvious that he didn’t only want a cuddle that night. He also wanted an audience. No sooner had I put my head on the pillow next to his than he sat straight up.
“Can I tell you the next chapter in the Rescue Story?” he asked.
He had been composing this Rescue Story for weeks. In each episode one of the adorable girls he knows was in terrible trouble. And Daryl swooped in to save her. That night I heard three “chapters” actually. I didn’t have the heart to stop him. So he told me The Forest Story, The Crane Story, and The Pirate Ship Story. All equally intriguing.
In The Forest Story, Holly from his drama class—who is so beautiful—was sitting on a log in the dark forest when a bear came up to her. Poor Holly didn’t have anything to fight a bear. She only had two dimes and a bag of M&Ms. And you know, Momma, you can’t fight a bear with just two dimes and a bag of M&Ms.
Then. (Insert musical fanfare.) Daryl came walking along.
And he was, like, there’s a bear getting Holly. And actually, Daryl had a sword. And it was this (insert enormous gesturing) big. So he went (insert swooshing sound effect)! And cut the bear’s fur. And the bear was, like, all distracted and everything. And Holly ran and ran away. Then. Daryl poked the bear’s eyes. And sliced off his nose.
(Insert applause from Momma and big dimpled smiles from Dar.)
Later I relayed the Rescue Stories to Daddy. And we marveled at our little bear sword fighter. How he imagined himself as a hero—strong and brave. How he could already tell a pretty great story.
That was September.
This is now.
Now he is composing the Daryl & Rachel trilogy. Apparently, Daryl & Rachel I and II are already available on DVD and Blue-ray. And these are full-blown musicals. Daryl not only narrates the story, but he also sings his own lyrics to some of his favorite tunes.
In Daryl & Rachel I, the main characters are racecar drivers. (Not surprising if you know the screenwriter/composer.) And the movie opens with a big race. Daryl’s own version of Sheryl Crow’s “Real Gone” from the Cars movie provides the soundtrack. It’s still a song about cars and driving, but with a special Daryl spin.
In Daryl & Rachel II, Bruno Mars’ “Count On Me” from the movie A Turtle’s Tale has become a ballad on proper communication skills. Daryl sings about the importance of listening carefully and using good words. Then he launches into the chorus: “I’ll be by your side, to help you hide, your nonsense.” I love that line. Probably because I could use a friend to help me hide my nonsense.
Anyhow. You get the idea.
But my favorite has to be his Daryl & Rachel II adaptation of “Let It Go!” from Frozen. Which he has turned into a sort of worship song. Rachel sings it to Daryl when he has lost his cat Brownie and is very upset. In the song, Rachel reminds Daryl that God loves him with a “raging love.” The “let it go!” refrain has become “He is King! He is King!” Then Daryl sings: “Here I stand, In His hand, Let the storms rage on, God’s taking care of me anyway.” And I love that line too.
I love his whole storytelling thing. For so many reasons.
I love that it gives me a glimpse into his heart and mind. Into his fears and concerns. His values and ideals. What he’s processing. Who he’s becoming. And who he wants to be. I love hearing what truth is sticking and what isn’t quite. But most of all I love that, in this recent Daryl & Rachel project, he’s bringing God to bear. That now God is becoming the real hero, even more than him.
One parenting book that Peter and I like is Michelle Anthony’s Spiritual Parenting. The approach she advocates is less about controlling our children’s behavior. And more about “creating an environment that God can use to beckon [our] children to Him.” She breaks it down into ten environments actually.
The first is the Environment of Storytelling.
This involves sharing the whole God story with our kids. Adam and Eve. Noah and his ark. Abraham and Isaac. Jacob and Esau. Joseph. Moses. Saul. David. Solomon. The judges. The prophets. And all of it. On through to Jesus and beyond. A compelling and dramatic and precious narrative. But in our telling, it is most important that God—not the Bible characters—be the hero. That it be His story above all else. (Anthony has also written The Big God Story, which does just that.)
The Environment of Storytelling, though, also involves sharing our own God story with our children. Telling them regularly what He has done in and through us. Daily pointing out His fingerprints wherever they can be seen. Daily reminding them that our lives, too, are His and not our own. Daily bringing God to bear.
So Happy Monday! And happy storytelling…
When you meet your bear today, may you be armed with more than two dimes and a bag of M&Ms. Alternatively, may you be rescued by a hero as valiant as our little one. May you find a friend who will help you hide your nonsense. May you know God’s raging love. May you sing at the top of your lungs, “He is King!” May you stand firmly in His hand amidst the storms. And may you always remember that He’s taking care of you anyway. Ultimate hero that He is.