Magic TV Stories are a phenomena that have been going on at bedtime around here for over a year now. It's a special thing that Bret does with usually just the big brothers. And even though it doesn't happen every night - probably on average only once or twice a week - those boys love their daddy's Magic TV Stories. They ask for them all the time, and they hang on every word, often still talking about them the next morning.
Bret wrote about it on his blog tonight - http://ancientjourney.blogspot.com/2010/06/traveling-companion-episode-7.html - beautifully tying it in with some of the things he's been learning and thinking about during his class at SMU. So I've stolen (with permission of course!) the Magic TV portion of his journal entry to share here. (If you have a chance, you should read the rest of his thoughts on the spritual discipline of storytelling. It's good stuff!)
Meet Steve and Crazy:
I knew exactly what he was going to ask me. It was bedtime and I was home, so the question was inevitable. The boy with the huge blue eyes and big gap where his two front teeth should be reached up and grabbed my face with both hands. "Daddy...magic TV?"
For the past year or so Conner, Micah and I have been on a journey with two young boys named Steve and Crazy. Steve is very tall and Crazy is very, well...crazy. They live in a special house. In this house there are lots of rooms and in each room there are lots of tv's. There are big tv's and small tv's. Black-and-white tv's, color tv's and rainbow tv's. There are rectangle tv's and round tv's. There are flat tv's and fat tv's. There are tv's that hang on the wall and tv's that sit on a table. But there is one tv more special than all the others. In fact, you could say that its a magic tv. You can't find this tv if you're looking for it...and actually, you can only find this tv if you aren't looking for anything at all. But, whenever you watch this tv you find yourself inside the story. (Micah named this unchanging part of the story, "the commercial." Conner loves it and Micah always wants to skip it and get to the good part.)
Each night Steve and Crazy watch a show - sometimes its a cartoon that Conner and Micah enjoy, like Phineas and Ferb, the Backyardigans or even the Smurfs (yep, our boys know about the Smurfs). Sometimes its a show about dinosaurs, ninja's, jungles, outer space or a combination of several. And each time Steve and Crazy must help the characters in the show finish the episode. Sometimes things go wrong, sometimes things are just plain silly. We never know what's going to happen (seriously, I make it up as I go).
Crazy never says anything that makes sense - he is crazy after all. Micah usually has some random statement that he wants Crazy to say...and since it doesn't make any sense its usually pretty easy to fit it in!
These stories can be exhausting...how many different plot lines can a guy come up with after all? But I keep telling them because Conner and Micah truly love Steve and Crazy. Sometimes I get Conner to tell the story and I'm always amazed at how he already understands that a story has a beginning followed by some sort of crisis with twists that don't get resolved until the end. Micah hasn't been willing to tell any stories yet, but he has completely outlined several plots for me...
Often Steve and Crazy do things in a way that would seem strange to many people. They model for Conner and Micah a radical new way of living. This weekend I witnessed something in my boys and I wonder if it is directly attributable to the stories of a guy that is tall and a guy that is, well...crazy.
The boys and I went and played putt-putt for the first time. When we were finished we went into the nickel arcade (50 cents for half an hour of fun? I can do that!) Several of the games gave tickets - the kind you can trade in for cheap junk when you're done. We didn't really have enough to get anything so I suggested that maybe there were other boys and girls there who could use them more than us. I didn't really expect the response. Micah, my 4 year old, immediately began tearing off groups of 6 or 7 tickets and asking other kids if they would like them. "I want to make sure everyone gets some, Dad." Conner gave some to a couple guys and took the time to explain that yes, he wanted the tickets, but we didn't have that many and this way they could get an even cooler prize.
My kids are awesome. I think this story makes Jesus smile...and its a story that is definitely moving me somewhere.