FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Toys For Sale

Written By: Scot Butwell - Aug• 04•16

c-and-do

D: “Tell me the story when I sold C’s toys.”

Me: “It was a hot summer day, and you and C were going to the park, just like every other day. Except this time, C brought his red wagon with a cardboard box filled with his toys.”

D: “Who was in the box?”

Me: “There was Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear…and…Rrrooarr! Rex, Slinky, Mr. Potatohead and who else… (I make a wheezing sound).

D: “Wheezy.”

Me: There was Wheezy, and there was let’s see…(I grunt in a low-pitch)

D: “Terrance from the Angry Birds.”

Me: “And Bomb, Chuck, Red, Hal, the Blue Birds, and Matilda…

D: “No, Matida stayed at home.”

Me: “Oh, yeah, Matilda stayed home with Barbie to do their fingernails. They wanted to look good for their boyfriends, Terrance and Ken.”

D: “Don’t forget about Lotso.”

Me: So, there was Lotso, and as C pulling his wagon up the hill, you heard a voice saying, “D, please rescue us…we need be saved from C.”

D: “It was Rex.”

Me: Rex said, “C is a bad owner. He plays video games all day and doesn’t play with us anymore. And you know what else?”

D: “What?”

Me: “His room is filth. There are rotten bananas and moldy food on the floor. It’s a health hazard, and we’re going to die–unless you save us.”

D: “I will save you Rex.”

Me: “So, when C looked away from his wagon, you grabbed the handle and ran down the winding trail.”

D: “While all the guys yelled, “Mush! Mush! Mush!”

Me: “Save us, D, they all yelled. While C came chasing after you, screaming, “Get back here with my Toys. Those are my toys! You can’t take my toys.”

D: “At the bottom of the hill, I yelled, ”Toys for sale, toys for sale. Who wants to buy Sheriff Woody? Batteries not included.”

Me: “And C started to get panicky because he thought you were going to sell his toys. And I told him, “D is not really selling your toys. But he didn’t believe me.”

D: “And he started to get real panicky when…”

Me: “Four boys heard you yelling ‘toys for sale,’ and so they came over and asked, “Are you really selling C’s toys?”

D: “Yep, I said, who wants to buy Sheriff Woody?”

Me: “And so you sold all of C’s toys, and when C looked in the cardboard box, his eyes widened because it was empty.”

D: “What did C do next?”

Me: “C lifted up his arm in the arm, shook his fists (which I act out) and screamed, “D, you ruined my life. My life is RUINED!!!” My life is over. I might as well die.”

D: “And then what happened?”

Me: “Then C picked up a rock (I swing my arm like about to lasso a bull)…

D: “No, that’s not how he threw the rock. He threw it like this (he flicks his wrist back and forward).

Me: “Okay, C pulled his wrist back and threw the rock at you and (I pretend to have a rock in my hand) and the rock went straight towards your head.”

D: “But I intercepted it and threw it back at him.”

Me: “And the he jumped up and down, screaming, crying, and saying, “I’m never going to be your friend again, D.”

This story happened when D was seven, and for the next couple of years, D would ask me to tell him the when he sold C’s toys at bedtime and other times of the day.

Originally, I took D home in huff, angry that he couldn’t play with his friend without any problems, but then I had an idea. I pulled out a marker board and sectioned it off into six squares for scenes.

D drew stick figure pictures of what happened, scene by scene, and we had an inciting incident, progressive complications, a crisis and climax-but no resolution.

It looked to me like movie scenes from a DVD menu, and I almost forgot, a working outline to role play what happened at the park to help D develop empathy for how C felt when “he sold C’s toys.”

They say persons who are on the autism spectrum have a deficit in what’s called theory of mind, meaning they have difficulty understanding others have a different perspective than their own.

So I thought this would be an opportunity to help D think about C’s perspective was a lot different than his own, and it might even affect the permanence of their friendship.

That was my objective. Honest.

But as I ran around the house chasing D, screaming “those are my toys! You can’t sell my toys!” over and over, I started to have doubts on the efficacy of my plan.

D was having too much fun replaying what happened, and as soon as we finished one scene, we started the next scene after a quick glance at our storyboard.

“Cut,” D yelloed when the scene was finished.

L came out of her office to see what all the screaming was about. I explained what we were doing, and she didn’t think it was a good idea.

“I know you think that you are teaching D to have empathy for C, but all you doing is teaching him to make fun of his friend.”

She went back to her office, and we resumed acting out the scenes, going through all sex scenes three times, before it was time for D’s swimming lesson.

My take away…

He told me later that one of the toys—Rex from Toy Story—whispered to him to rescue Sheriffriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky from C because he was a bad owner.

“You can’t sell my toys,” C wailed, bursting into tears. “Those are my toys. You can’t sell my toys.”

I tried convincing him D was not really selling his toys, but D kept yelling “toys for sale” in a loud voice. This lent credibility to the sale and then four boys came over to check it out.

“Are you really selling C’s toys?” One of the boys asked D.

”Yes.”

And then it got ugly. C threw a rock at D. It missed, but D threw it back at C, who let out a piercing cry and jumped up and down, telling D he was never going to be his friend ever again.

D and I went home, and I gave D a time out. But then I realized this didn’t actually address the root of the problem–D’s lack of empathy for how C was feeling during his toy sale.

So I decided for us role play what happened. We created a storyboard on a marker board with six scenes and, honestly, it felt more like we were plotting out an outline for a movie.

Then came the acting—and in an effort to create authenticity—we both used dramatic, emotional voices, and there was a inciting incident scene of me chasing D all through the house.

“Come back with my wagon,” I wailed over and over. “You can’t take my wagon! Those are my toys. You can’t sell my toys—they’re my toys.”

Then I became the four boys, asking D the price of each one of C’s toys, and ones of us yelled “cut.” And then we we would replay the scene over again because we were having so much fun.

We briefly discussed each new scene—like a director and actor—before one of us yelled, “action!” And then one of us yelled “cut” again, and D immediately wanted to do the scene another time.

L walked by out production and Issued her stamp of disapproval. “You think that you are teaching him to have empathy for C, but what you are really doing is making fun of his friend.”

A few hours passed, and it was time for his swim lesson. Even though our acting didn’t develop empathy for C, we had fun and it allowed me to let go of my frustration over the situation.

The next few weeks, we acted out the story at the park and the beach, and he asked me to tell him the story at bedtime–each time the story gaining a more epic quality in its latest form.

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