My daughter and I now have a bedtime ritual. A few weeks ago she was having trouble getting to sleep because she was afraid of bad dreams. She and her brother have recently developed a pronounced fear of bugs. Whether they be spiders, bumblebees, or even cute little ladybugs, they want nothing to do with them. I'm trying my best to babystep them out of this fear, but it's still an issue.
Anyway, while trying to help Ari through this fear of dreams of bugs one night, I suggested that she close her eyes and imagine that she and her good friend from school were on an adventure together. "Imagine that the two of you do something that wouldn't really happen, like you fly to France in a plane without even your parents," I offered. She loved it. She's familiar with some of what Paris has to offer. We have a beautiful poster of the Eiffel Tower in our living room as well as the famous print by Robert Doisneau. She also knows how to say a few words in French. "Au revoir," she says to me as I leave for work some days. "Je t'aime," she'll add as I look back before the door closes.
In the story meant to soothe her that night, I told her all about her flight to Paris with her friend Kay. They took turns sitting by the window and looked down and the big blue ocean. They watched princess movies in the airplane. They talked about what they would do when they got to Paris. They were two four-year-old girls wearing fabulous hats and having the big time. Once they arrived, they immediately went about the process of walking through the airport and finding their luggage. They had no problem finding their pink Dora suitcases among the hundreds of identical black bags on the carousel and exited the airport and hailed a taxi to take them to their hotel.
Ari was the first of the pair to see the Eiffel Tower off in the distance and pointed it out to her friend. They were both so excited to be so far from home and so independent. While Ari's brother was back home in Nashville whining about green beans on his dinner plate, she and her friend were living the grown-up life that most gown-ups don't even get to live. It was at this point that I could see in my daughter's eyes that this was not to be a mere distraction from her fear of bugs but a regular part of the going to bed routine. And if she wasn't hooked by now, she most certainly was by the next part.
Ari and Kay decided to let the taxi drop them off at a small cafe instead of at their hotel. Ari had seen these cafes on her dad's computer while they perused Google Street View and wanted to sit at one of those sidewalk tables just like she had always imagined she would. She and Kay sat and enjoyed their tea and bread while wearing their fabulous hats and beautiful sundresses. Just then a young boy walked by and Kay spoke to him.
"Hello," she said to the boy.
He looked back, a bit puzzled and said nothing as he scratched the side of his face.
Ari knew that he didn't understand what Kay had said and offered what little French she knew. "Bonjour," she said. The boy smiled and said the same back to the girls. Kay and Ari giggled and introduced themselves to the boy.
"Jacques," he replied, pointing to his chest.
This was a brief summation of three nights of talking to my daughter before bed. The second night was a repeat of the first and the third night was their stop at the French cafe where they met Jacques. I didn't know how much interest she would have in the story but last night and the night before she was quick to say, "Tell me about France."
I'm sure she'll want me to think of what comes next so now I get to spend today figuring out how Jacques becomes their tour guide even though he doesn't even know a lick of English. Also, her brother came into her room last night as I was telling the story and enjoyed it as well, so I may find a way for him to be there as well. Maybe the green beans at home were just too much and he emptied his piggy bank and fled to France as well.
Have a nice day. I'm off to Google Street View for research.