It was one of those things that was funny a day later, but not at the time it happened.
D and C were at the park, and C had brought a wagon full of toys, and D took off running with the wagon down a hill.
“Toys for sale! Who wants to buy Sheriff Woody?” he yelled at the bottom. “Batteries not included.”
I don’t know what prompted it–a long summer afternoon perhaps–but C started crying, believing D was really going to sell his toys.
“Those are my toys…you can’t sell my toys,” C said.
“Toys for sale,” D kept repeating. “Who wants to buy Sheriff Woody?”
A group of boys surrounded the wagon, lending credibility to the “toy sale” in C’s eyes, and things soon began to escalate between D and C.
So we ended up back home with D writing “I will use kind hands” ten times. Why can’t he just get along with his friend at the park?
That was the sum of my thoughts. Granted, if C had believed me that D was not really selling his toys, the situation might have turned out differently.
The boys were not whipping out money to buy toys. Still, I was frustrated D could not just go to the park, without an incident occurring.
I couldn’t shake the angry feeling out of my head–that is, until I had a brilliant idea: to role play what happened to help D examine his choices.
Maybe, he could even develop some empathy for his friend. At least, that was the plan.
We started by creating a storyboard, which turned out to have six scenes, and I realized we were plotting the outline for a movie instead of role playing.
And then came the acting.
D reenacted what happened with so much gusto that I realized he probably wasn’t having an empathy for how C felt about his toys being sold.
First, there was a chase scene. D stealing C’s wagon and running around the kitchen with me trying to catch him. That was a lot of fun–for us both.
“Come back here with my wagon,” I kept repeating as D ran and giggled at the same time.
Next, there was his “toys for sale” monologue, D giving a complete inventory, as I wailed loudly in despair.
“Those are my toys…you can’t sell my toys.”
And so it went. I bartered with D over the price of toys. Dialogue flowed back and forth between us with more of an ease than it often does.
He loved it, and so did I. It was his movie.
We practiced each scene several times before one of us yelled “cut.” And then reviewed the plot for the next scene before yelling, “action!”
And then we did next scene and the next scene–with bits of directorial input from me.
It was great fun—we were both in sync—playing our roles, and as father and son, I rejoiced that we’d found a common activity to focus our attention.
We performed our movie for the Wife, and then we went to his swimming lesson, with the incident at the park long behind us.