radegund: (swans)
I just love these stories so much, you're getting more of them.

More from the Oyster )

What I find interesting about these is that we don't actually read fairy tales to the Oyster that often. I'm not sure where he's picked up the detail in these ones. Of course, some crucial details have escaped him in the case of Jack and the Beanstalk (he added the ropes at the end of the story, because he was worried about what would happen when the giant woke up - he doesn't really do death). But he clearly has some understanding of fairy tale structure and narrative conventions.

I'm thinking CBeebies has a lot to do with it, actually, which is kind of fascinating from the point of view of cultural transmission.
radegund: (swans)
Couldn't resist recording this before recycling it - it's one of the pieces of scrap paper on which [livejournal.com profile] niallm and I write to the Oyster's dictation, for him to transcribe (this is infinitely less irritating than spelling out while he writes in real time). It's from October, back when the stories were rather less sophisticated than they are now.

The numbering was his idea; it helps him keep track. One of these pages can last for hours, as he goes away to write down the latest entry and then comes back for more.

1. The adventures of small animals.
2. The squirrel hunter is back - we're safe!
3. Miaow! Run for your lives!
4. Don't eat me!
5. Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
6. Bears got honey for their porridge. A mean girl called Goldilocks stole all their things. They were very cross at the end, though they made friends.
7. Little Red Riding Hood
8. Little Red Riding Hood was bringing some buns to her grandma's house. A wolf stole them. But then she made some more at her grandma's house, and they had a delicious meal.

See, it's not just CBeebies that likes a nice happy ending. I'm not sure what the Oyster makes of Humpty Dumpty, actually, but at the moment he's finding it very hard to take stories with nasty or scary elements. Either he insists that I stop reading, or he asks me to scan ahead and make sure everyone's OK. No Brothers Grimm for him.

This evening was a bit extreme: he got worried when Mrs Tabitha Twitchit sent Mittens, Moppet and Tom Kitten out to the garden in their clean clothes. I assured him that nothing terrible was going to happen, so we made it through to the end and agreed that the only bad bit was the smacking ("Why did people think it was a good idea to hit children?").

And yet he swallows the fantasy-testosterone-soaked swashbuckling of the Howard Pyle/John Burrows Robin Hood.

Complex child. What a surprise.
radegund: (swans)
I'm kind of fascinated by how the Oyster's storytelling skills are developing. His current method is to dictate the story for me to write on scrap paper. He tells it fluently, while pacing up and down like a lecturer, then copies what I've written into his book, adding illustrations as he goes.

Robin Hood continues to be a hot theme: specifically, summaries of the achingly patriarchal version by Howard Pyle (retold by John Burrows). Today's implementation was particularly coherent, so I'm noting it here.

This is more a record for me, really, but you might find it amusing )
radegund: (swans)
From the Pen of the Oyster

The Oyster is mostly writing books these days. He's still really into the logistics of book production: to the existing panoply of detail (page numbers, contents pages, barcodes, blurbs, etc.), he has added a full-scale copyright page, with the publisher's name and address, copyright statement, rights statement, and printing details. He also sometimes adds a dedication.

He asked me (ages ago) what he should call his publishing company. I suggested Oisín Books. he thought for a moment and said, "No - Oisín Lots of Books", which is obviously much more accurate.

He rarely finishes books, but today he did one for his aunt, who was coming for dinner. It's called Adventures, and comprises six somewhat gnomic stories, as follows:

1. The Princess and the Dragons
A porcupine set out, and he found a palace where he brought back a princess to Dragonland.

2. The Chocolate Tower
Once there was a carpenter who built a chocolate tower. He didn't want a monster to get it, so he sellotaped the monster's feet to the floor.

3. The Antelope
There was an antelope who invited a girl to her home. They had a lovely time there.

4. The Bad Dragon
There was a dragon behind the door. A knight slayed him.

5. Monster Oisín
A monster ate Oisín! But his Mama saved him.

6. A Bucket and Soap
There were two brothers. They made a mess. They cleaned it up.1

The blurb on the back: Read these stories.

His writing is getting quite precise, although he does like to work quickly, and practises dashing off the letters with a careless flourish. He also likes playing with typefaces, though: sometimes he'll go a day or two putting serifs or curls on everything. He likes initial drop-capitals too (the more lines they span, the better).

He is - and this is pretty exciting - beginning to concede that he can read. A little bit, anyway. Tonight we took turns, page by page, with Meg and Mog, and he did really well. He gets enormously frustrated when he feels he can't do it. He wants to be the best reader in the werreld.

1 Entirely fictional, alas!

From the Mouth of the Feaster

The Feaster's language continues to explode: he's now doing big beautiful sentences. "We a-going on a train!" he said, over and over again, on Sunday as we travelled home from Sligo.

He tells us where he wants to go ("diffway", or perhaps "sofa"), how he wants to get there ("a carry-oo" or "hand"), and what he wants to do when he's there ("muk" [milk], or perhaps "a-watch a-Woddy a-Buzz a-ta'vishin" [O got Toy Story for his birthday]). He commonly greets [livejournal.com profile] niallm when he gets home from work with "It's a Niall!" In the past few days he's learnt "I want" and "I like".

The fluency deserts him when he's upset, mind you, and he's reduced to "Not!" or "Not-a-ahhh!". When greatly moved, he falls back to the ultimate negative, "No, go 'way!"

He likes being cuddled and told he's so lovely - "so yoffy!" he exclaims back. At bedtime he likes "suguss a-cudduss a-muk" [snuggles and cuddles and milk].

Comparisons are, of course, odious, but I'm pretty sure his enunciation is much clearer than the Oyster's at the same stage. He goes for full words (rather than just the start) and seems to self-correct fairly quickly, where the Oyster held onto his original versions for longer (still does, in some cases). I wonder if this has to do with the fact that the Feaster appears to be more musical than the Oyster.

Because of the quick correction thing (oh, and the chaotic-squalor thing), we haven't kept a diary of the Feaster's language the way we did for the Oyster. Typical parents-of-second-child behaviour, I suppose. I kind of regret it - but it's also true that his words change more quickly, and people can understand him better, so it'd be less immediately useful.
radegund: (swans)
[cross-posted to Who Teaches Whom?]

The Oyster has been immersed in two things lately: (1) maths, and (2) writing books. I want to note down some of this stuff before I forget it, because it's cool.


Following on from this post, the 1 2 3 5 4 thing sorted itself out pretty quickly (without intervention, incidentally). The synaesthesia receded in importance, and the Numberjacks mania played itself out. So, thankfully, did the bit with me writing out pages full of numbers for the Oyster to colour in. He occasionally does that himself these days. Sometimes he just does the multiples of 11, because he likes them. He went through a brief phase of writing out the times table (or as he put it, a row of "counting in ones", a row of "counting in twos", a row of "counting in threes", and so on), but that petered out fairly quickly. He knows most of the products up to around 100, I think.

He spent a week or two as an infinity denier. At first he decided that the highest number was called Niall (love that!), and that Niall plus 1 was 0. I think he now gets that you can never stop counting. He's interested in very large numbers. He likes billions and trillions and quadrillions and bazillions. I like the way that even though a bazillion doesn't exist, we can still make statements about it (e.g. it's even, it's a multiple of 10, it's a positive integer greater than a trillion, it's 1 followed by a multiple of 3 zeroes, and so on).

He knows that there are numbers between the integers, but we haven't really got into how that works yet.

He's reasonably solid on place value, as far as I can tell. Sometimes he writes out columns of numbers where column 1 is the numbers from 1 to 9, column 2 is 10 20 30 ... 90, column 3 is 100 200 300 ... 900, and so on. Sometimes we multiply numbers by 2 until we exhaust first his capacity, then mine (to do it without stopping to concentrate or write it down, I mean), then my calculator's (to display the result without resorting to scientific notation). He really likes asking me sums, or having a repeated joke such as "What's 55 plus 55 - is it tenty-ten? *giggle*"

Did you know that if x squared is y, then (x + 1) squared is y + 2x + 1? (For example, 6 squared is 36, and 7 squared is 36 + 12 + 1.) I didn't, until the Oyster got me doing squares in my head (while driving - not recommended!) up to 30 or so.

He has the hang of the number line, and can add and subtract small positive and negative numbers fairly easily, particularly if he has a number line in front of him. His mental arithmetic above 0 is pretty good. "What's 54 plus 35 ... is it 89?" he'll say, or "Is 88 plus 88 176?" Béar Eile (his special bear) turned 107 at the weekend, and he accurately added up the ages of all the humans in the house, then had a reasonable stab at calculating the difference between that number (75, for those following along at home) and 107.

Today's little nugget was when he was counting a page full of pictures, and he counted across the first row of twelve, began to count the second row, then checked himself and counted the number of rows instead. "Four twelves, what's that? Is it 48?"

He has some grasp of bases other than 10. When he was talking to Niall about them, he observed that for base 5, you only need the numbers 0 to 4 to write any number. When the Erisian was visiting, he taught the Oyster about binary - and showed him how to count to 31 on the fingers of one hand. I'm not sure how much of that stayed in, but he appeared to grasp it - and at least when he encounters it again it'll be familiar.

It was also while the Erisian was here that the Oyster asked, "Do all the twelve numbers do that thing where ... like, 1 plus 1 is 2, and 1 2 is 12; 2 plus 2 is 4, and 2 4 is 24?" Turns out they do, as long as you put the original number in the tens column and add it to whatever's there (e.g. 5 plus 5 is 10, and (5+1) 0 is 60; 6 plus 6 is 12, and (6 + 1) 2 is 72). Not sure how far up that goes. But we were very tickled that he'd noticed.

My parents got him a 1st class maths book as a present. He takes it out a couple of times a week and does a few pages of exercises. He's done them easily, so far, once I've read the instructions to him. Mostly, what confuses him is the part about being required to demonstrate how he's getting his answers. The first module dealt exclusively with addition of two numbers with an answer of 10 or less. A few pages later, there were sums with an answer of 11 or 12. Later still, the sums had answers of 13 or 14. He's now even done some where you add more than two numbers. He flipped to the middle of the book and found sums demonstrating place value with columns of dots, and sums to calculate how much change you'd have from 10 cents if you bought an item with a given price.

If he were in school, this would be the book for his third year. To me, this seems generally supportive of our hypothesis that being home-educated is unlikely to lead to academic disadvantage for our children. Actually, what I love about the Oyster's engagement with maths is that from my perspective, it seems that he's Doing Numbers in exactly the same way that he Did Trains a while ago, or Did Robin Hood earlier this year. He's following what fascinates him, in other words, which is the key idea. It's kind of thrilling to see it in action.


There is rather less to say about books, other than that the Oyster is an enviably prolific author. He has written books about Robin Hood, books about dragons, books about trains, monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, knights, numbers. He has written books in A4 and A5 size (stapled by patient relatives, often with several stapled booklets taped together); he has written tiny little books in A7 size (painstakingly assembled by me - so far, a 100-pager and a 256-pager, with cardboard covers).

By "written", I mean that generally he draws the pictures first, then asks for the spellings to write the words (which often go in speech bubbles). Recently, he has been asking only for the words he doesn't know - he can do "the", "and", "of", "book", among others, without assistance. Also, I've adopted the strategy of writing out the phrase he wants on a scrap piece of paper for him to copy, which is less hair-tearingly tedious than calling out the letters in batches of three or four.

Before beginning to write, however, the srs bsns of putting the book together must be completed. Page numbers are very important. So are front and back covers, end-papers, and the contents page. Recently he started adding barcodes (complete with little numbers written along the top), prices, blurbs, and endorsement quotes. Some of his books have had an index.

Today's titles, as a snapshot: Elementary Trains (a present for K), Spaceman George (not sure that one went very far before being abandoned), a recipe book called Oisín's Food, and a two-part series: The Story of the Skull and Further Adventures of the Skull. These latter two were for the Boy Down the Road, who is ... ah ... very traditionally socialised, and likes weapons and fighting and horror-type stuff (but is nonetheless more or less a sweetheart). The Oyster fits his material to his readership, in other words, which I find very interesting.
radegund: (swans)
We played Snakes and Ladders this afternoon, on a board that I drew and the Oyster coloured (he is all about making games at the moment).

We couldn't find any dice. So we played without one. We mimed rolling and throwing, and then declared what number had come up.

Nobody went down any snakes - though we had a few lucky escapes :-) The odd thing was, we only went up one ladder each. Both of us, apparently deliberately (well, definitely in my case!), passed up the opportunity to land on a ladder at least once.

The Oyster won. But only just. He got to 98, then kept rolling more than he needed to get to 100 (we were playing the rule that you have to turn and come back if you have jumps left over), until I was up in the 90s. He won eventually, and then we played on until I reached 100.

I'm fascinated by how the Oyster acted given that we both knew, from the outset, that he was going to win. Our agreement was unspoken, admittedly, but nonetheless inviolable. I expected him to roll a series of sixes, or at least to roll numbers that would take him up ladders whenever he could. But not a bit of it. I think he was more concerned with realism than with victory. And he didn't want to trounce me, either.

I'm reading Alfie Kohn's No Contest: The Case Against Competition at the moment. Provoking of much thought. Perhaps when I've finished it I'll be able to make better sense of our Snakes and Ladders game.
radegund: (swans)
Oyster: Would you like to be a musketeer?
Mama: Not particularly.
Oyster: Why not?
Mama: I'm lots of things - I don't really feel I need to add any more at the moment.
Oyster: What are you?
Mama: Well, I'm a writer, and a mother, and someone who makes things, and a friend, and ...
Oyster: And a singer, and an educator, and a children-keep-safer, and ...
Mama: And Niall's partner, and an editor, and ... I'm lots of things.
Oyster: You're everything!
Mama: Not everything.
Oyster: Why not everything?
Mama: Well, I'm not a musketeer, for instance.

I feel all loved and appreciated, now :-)
radegund: (swans)
Oyster: I need my lunch RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW!
Mama: Yeah, me too. Tell you what, if you whine loudly enough, I'll be able to make the lunch appear.
Oyster: *thinks about this for a minute*
Oyster: *adopts funny voice* I am Physics. Just saying something and then it happens is against Physics, and Physics is very strong - bye!

So we didn't get to make the lunch appear after all.

Physics came back a little later on, and introduced me to his friends Grabbity, Words and Food.
radegund: (swans)
[cross-posted to Who Teaches Whom?]

It's wall-to-wall numbers at the moment. I don't know how many sets of Numberjacks I've cut out of paper in the last week. (For the uninitiated, the CBeebies show Numberjacks is about superheroes who are also numbers and solve maths-related problems.)

The Oyster is learning to count to 100. He frequently wants the numbers from 1 to 100 written out on a page, with circles around them, so he can colour in the circles. He usually does each column in a single colour, and I think he's working out various patterns.

He does like to go 1 2 3 5 4, 10 20 30 50 40, and so on, mind you. But he acknowledges that this is a personal quirk, and that he's simply choosing different labels to apply to the relevant quantities.

Have I ever mentioned "flower-1"? It's a very handy concept: a shortcut number that encompasses everything from 101 to 2000. So if you use it you can quite easily count up to, say, 2004, the year of the Oyster's birth. It's written with a flower (including stem and vase) and the number 1.

He's apparently synaesthetic around numbers. For the record, so I can compare later and see if it changes: 0 - dark blue, 1 - red, 2 - yellow, 3 - green, 4 - dark blue, 5 - red, 6 - yellow, 7 - red, 8 - light blue, 9 - dark blue, 10 - pink, 11 - green, 12 - light blue.

This activity all reminds me very much of the bit in John Holt's How Children Fail (or was it in ...Learn? - my copies are lent so I can't check), where he sits in his classroom with a roll of receipt paper and starts writing down the numbers in order, and the kids are dancing around in excitement and calling each other over to look - "Here's 88! Here's 129! Look - he's going to write 300 next!" - the simple fact of numerical progression being a new and exciting idea to some of them.

I love this stuff.


Jun. 13th, 2009 10:05 am
radegund: (swan-head)
Game yesterday afternoon was running around our local green space being a dizzying series of superheroes (e.g. one called Peter Zoopy, which I think is a fabulous name for a superhero), villains, henchpersons, guards, etc.

Oyster: Now I do an evil laugh, like this - henh henh henh.
Mama: You dastardly villain! *runs away*
Oyster: *gives chase* Seize her!
Mama: You'll never get away with this!
Oyster: Oh yes I will, you big hairy fluff!
Mama: *is reduced to helpless giggling, which allows the villain to catch up - good strategy, that*

The Feaster is talking a blue streak these days. He can say "tractor" (dada) and "car" (gaah) and "dragon" (dghii) and "donkey" (dahgii), and I'm pretty sure he said "other" (adah) this morning, meaning "other side [i.e. breast], please". When we emerge from the present chaos, we'll put up a list on the kitchen wall, like we had for the Oyster at the same stage.

They're awfully nice, you know. Here, look, I'll show you:

Photos of their respective gloriousnesses )

And finally, just because I think this deserves a wider audience (ooh, get me), here's a sticky-tape picture that the Oyster made in our holiday house at Easter. He came up with the technique himself, as far as I know. Giraffe, see?


Jun. 5th, 2009 03:37 pm
radegund: (swans)
This afternoon, on our way back from the polling station.

Oyster: Hi, I'm a superhero. Do you have a problem I could help you with?
Mama: Well ... I'd like my younger son to go to sleep, please, because he really needs his nap and he's not getting there.
Oyster: I can't do that - I only have superpowers!

radegund: (stone-sparkles)
1. The plumber got the boiler back up on its feet today. Can haz heating! Yay! Apparently it cut out because of an airlock, and it's not 100% better - he'll be back tomorrow to clean out the pump.

2. The Oyster does quality mondegreens: today he sang the chorus of "I'll tell Ma when I get home" as "Cheese handsome, cheese pretty, cheese the belle of Belfast city". I had to stifle my giggles. (He still plays hide-in-the-sink, although I suppose it's only a matter of time.)

3. Two frequent themes from our games at the moment:
    (1) the Oyster is an alien / monster / wild aminal who arrives in our house from his werreld. My role is to look beyond his aggressive facade and recognise that he wants to make friends. He then asks if he can stay with us, and I enthusiastically welcome him. He asks "So, do you like me so far?" quite a lot.
    (2) the Oyster is a superhero (more coping with non-omnipotence, I'm thinking). Yesterday he was Superhero John Murphy, who wore a big pink super-cape (OK, bath towel), and could run, jump, and fly. He asked, "So, are there any problems you'd like me to solve?" I said I wasn't too impressed with the current government, which prompted a long discussion about economic policy, voting, etc. John supports rich people sharing their money with poor people, and he's going to make a machine that will make money so that everyone can have as much as they want. Each rich person will give some money to a poor person that they know (we didn't ultimately resolve the issue of rich people who know no poor people and poor people who know no rich people). It's important to remember that if the government give all their money to the poor people, then they will be poor themselves. Taxes may help with this, although I'm not entirely sure that the concept was grasped. John will run for election. His posters will show a picture of him in his super-cape, with a slogan that makes it clear that he can fly. But he can't make people vote for him: they have to decide for themselves.

4. Huge roadside sign on the way to Castledermot, Co. Kildare:
Fed up renting? Own "YOUR HOME" from just €720 per month.
Gotta love those quotation marks!

5. The Feaster is talking a blue streak. Most of what he says isn't English, nor close to it, but he clearly knows exactly what he's saying. He addresses us solemnly, using syllables and intonation and everything, then waits for a response. It's KILLINGLY cute. (Actually, it's very like the language of Boo in Monsters, Inc.) English words we've positively identified include (in no particular order):

- there (deh)
- that (dah)
- there [he|she|it] is! (dehhh-iziz, often with a beautiful baby top-note on the first syllable)
- cow (a very rapid d-gw, possibly for "the cow" - haven't heard it in a good while)
- moo (bvvvvv)
- train (day or tay)
- Mama (mama)
- bread (debd)
- cracker (gah-goh)
- potato (duh-duh, just this evening)

He also uses annann to mean "food" or "food I want RIGHT NOW", and he has a word meaning "breastmilk" that I've yet to pin down. It's something like dez, I think.

He seems hugely amused at the whole language gig, which is delightful.
radegund: (swans)
I wrote a couple of days ago about the dizzying array of Oysterian personas, and then yesterday he added another one to the repertoire. It's kind of my fault...

On our way to meet friends at the zoo:
Oyster (out of the blue): You know, I'm actually the workshopper who made the world.
Mama: You made the world?
Oyster: Yes, I made everything.
Mama: Really?
Mama: *drives a little further; is cruelly exhausted; starts babbling to make conversation*
Mama: You know, there are lots of stories about workshopper gods. There's an Irish one called Goibniu, I think, and a Roman one called Vulcan, and I'm pretty sure there's one in the Scandinavian tradition as well.
Oyster: Yes, I'm a god!
Mama: You're a workshopper god?
Oyster: No, I'm just ... god. Like, the Christian sort of god.
Mama: Oh. You're the Christian god? Cool. I think you're usually called Yahweh or Jehovah.
Oyster: *keeps up stream of talk about how he made everything in the werreld*
Oyster: You know what the most difficult thing for me to make was? The tiger.
Mama: Because it's so fierce?
Oyster: Yeah. I had to secretly tie its jaws shut while I was making it so that it wouldn't bite me.
[We arrive in the Phoenix Park and start making our way to the zoo.]
Oyster: *holds up a fist wherein is tightly clutched a piece of white cotton yarn*
Oyster: This is the key to everything!
Mama: Really?
Oyster: Yeah. It's a key that can open any door or any other thing! So if we accidentally get locked in the zoo when it's shutting, we'll be able to get out.
Mama: Handy.
Oyster: Wait, I have to open this tree. [sound effects] Some aliens were living in it and they wanted to go home.
Mama: That was kind of you to arrange it.
Oyster: The woman who made me helped me make the world too.
Mama: Oh, there was a woman who made you?
Oyster: Yeah - she made me, and then she married me. She's my wife, and we made the world together.
Mama: Cool.
Oyster: We're from England, I think. But she's in Africa at the moment.
[We arrive at the zoo and find our friends, who are intrigued to meet the Christian god.]
Oyster: *runs through various permutations of the game, opening up our legs and tummies with the key to everything, remarking on his creations, etc.*
Friend M (just 4): *contradicts*
Oyster (indignant): Mama, M isn't believing me.
Mama: No, it doesn't look like it.
Oyster: But! I made him! He has to believe me!
Mama: Well, not really. Even if you made him, he still has a mind.
Oyster: But I made his mind too!
M's dad: That's the thing about making creatures with minds, though. They go off and think for themselves.
M's parents and Mama: *try not to laugh*
Oyster: Well, I have a controller that I can use to make him do what I want. I left it at home, is the only problem.
Mama: Ah. That's a problem, all right.

Those are all the specifics I can remember. He kept the game up to varying degrees all afternoon (oh, wait, including explaining to me (when it rained) that he doesn't do weather and couldn't talk to the weather god because he was up in the sky and we didn't have an aeroplane).

Processing his lack of omnipotence, would you say?
radegund: (swans)
Oisín is rarely Oisín these days. Among the parade of generic modern professionals, knights, pirates, and aminals real or imaginary, there are a few I'd like to remember:

  • Lovely Fox, who comes from Sherwood Forest (where Oisín often goes to work with Robin Hood, meaning that these visitors can use his room)

  • Captain Sausages-in-the-Rigging Bones of the bad ship Glarnay (because the phrase "good ship" clearly can't apply to pirates)

  • Princess Green, who is ostentatiously enraptured by Fiachra

  • A ghost who loves gardening and would like to be my gardening partner

  • A swan who is also a children's author

  • A wobicus (I forget what this is a cross between, or what it's notable for, but I like the name)

  • An owl who fixes trains

  • A very sporty kind of bank manager

radegund: (swans)
In the National Gallery this afternoon:
Oyster: What does "National" mean in this case?
Mama (*trips over own brain somewhat*): Well ... it's the national gallery, which means ... well, it means it's for the whole country. "Nation" basically means "country", and this is the National Gallery because it's ... not a specialised one, not just for one sort of art or one place ... hmm ... I mean, it's like, the most important one in the whole country.

Five minutes later:
Oyster: So, me and Fiachra are your gallery children.
Mama: My gallery children?

And then I worked it out, and assured him that YES, he and Fiachra are my most important children in the whole country, if not the world.

Then he asked what a gallery was, so I explained that.

And then Oisín and I held hands, and I pushed the buggy containing Fiachra, and we danced out into the snow.
radegund: (swans)
Some Oysterian pronunciations that I don't want to forget:

Aminal is still entrenched - as in, "Can I watch aminal Robin Hood, please, Mama?" (i.e. the Disney version).

He rather likes ogre-gines (known as eggplant across the water).

He still plays hide-in-the-sink, which I just love.

For some reason, I crease myself laughing - as discreetly as possible - every time I hear him intone, Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, Wo ho ho and a bottle of rum! (I suspect Willie Rushton is responsible for the effect this has on me - the earnestness of the Oyster's delivery recalls Rushton's timeless rendition of the words of "The Laughing Policeman" to the tune of "As Time Goes By" on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.)

He's learning the words to the old Robin Hood theme song: Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glemmm! He reproduces the accent of the singer, dropping the "r"s in "feared", "sharp" and so on. He can do rhythm and is beginning to have a stab at pitch.

I'm sure there are others, but it's been a tryingly sleep-free week, so they'll have to wait.
radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
[livejournal.com profile] mollydot tagged me to post every day for 6 days about something that made me happy that day.

Unny spent today on the sofa with a temperature and a series of horrendous, stringy sneezes. This didn't make me happy, but a story/game we told/played in the afternoon did. It involved a monster who lived in a castle, to start with, and a boy called Oisín who turned up in the castle courtyard by magic. There was some free discussion and portcullis action, and then a fight with a dragon (who had a magic secret pocket containing bandages, which it could put over any wound they inflicted), and then they decided to go adventuring together. They went to a nearby mountain range where they discovered a way to get to a "hole world" - get this: a world full of holes that lead to other worlds. (Eat your heart out, C.S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, et al.) Then Oisín faded from the story (bringing him in had been my idea, as it happens), and I was cast as the monster wanting to go to a world of food, but there was a dragon (O) guarding the hole on behalf of a mean monster. The dragon agreed to let me by, but first I had to say a spell to enable him to step aside. He gave me directions to a witch's cave, where I went. The witch (O) agreed to give me the spell in return for a box of strawberries and sweets from the world of food. She wrote the spell down because it was complicated, and I brought it back and said it to the dragon, who let me down the hole. When I got to the food world, I first went to the strawberry stall, and then got directions to the sweet shop, which also sold bread, fish, and brie. And peas. So I filled two suitcases full of various foods, which I then had to lug up the ladder in the wall of the shaft leading back up to the hole world. I caught a glimpse of the mean monster, but I don't think he saw me.

Reading over that, the only bits I'm responsible for are Oisín arriving the castle courtyard and the writing down of the complicated spell. It's the detail I love. And the plotting. Oh, OK, all of it. Gamers please note: he was, to all intents and purposes, GMing me. He is FOUR. I am alarmed (but in that burstingly proud way that probably makes a lot of people want to thump me).

Who'm I tagging? YOU. I'm tagging you.
radegund: (swans)
We started telling a story yesterday, collaboratively, as we tend to do now. Oisín still insists that he DOESN'T TELL STORIES - instead, he tells me what to tell him, and then I tell him, and then it's me telling the story, see? But yesterday he said we should take turns.

[I'm bolding the bits that were definitely Oisín's idea; everything else was worked out between us. If I make a suggestion, it rarely gets taken on without some modification. The bold bits are the bits I had no input on at all.]

So, there was a castle with a dragon called Zarno living in it. Zarno was very like the dragon in Shrek, except male. A king and queen and prince and princess came to the castle with a whole lot of knights and other courtiers, and they wanted to move in. The dragon didn't want them to. They argued for a while, and then the court set up camp in the valley below the castle, and every day the king and queen and prince and princess went up to see if they could persuade the dragon to change his mind. They couldn't work out why Zarno wouldn't want some company. Zarno was trying to conceal from them the fact that there was an enchanted princess asleep in the highest room of the tallest tower [cf. Shrek], but they began to guess that something of the sort must be the case. They didn't realise that Zarno was under an enchantment too, which prevented him from telling them about the princess or allowing them to find her. [Yesterday's session ended here.]

They decided to try and explore the tallest tower. Afraid that Zarno would just breathe fire at them, they came up with a scheme to trick him: they got some flameproof material and made curtains, and told him that they thought they would look nice in the Great Hall. While the king and queen were with Zarno in the Great Hall, getting him to admire the curtains (which of course obscured the view of the castle courtyard), the prince and princess crossed the courtyard and began to climb up the twirly stairs in the tallest tower. But then they found a wall blocking their way. "Oh, I have an idea!" said the prince, and he took a jackhammer out of his pocket and hammered a hole in the wall. They climbed through the hole and climbed further, but suddenly, their way was blocked again by a section of roof. They climbed over this and continued up. Then they came to a big door, covered in locks. They unbolted all the bolts, and the prince took his jackhammer to the locks until they broke, and then they pulled the door open. They were sure that they were about to enter the highest room and discover the secret. But Zarno had put an enchantment on the door, so that it led them back to the Great Hall instead. [The Proud Maternal Co-author may have gasped in admiration at the BRILLIANCE of this plot twist.]

The prince and princess emerged into the Great Hall through a little door in the corner, which none of them had noticed before. Zarno and the king and queen were still there. "Ah, I see you fell into my trap," said Zarno. Just then, there was a bang outside. A van had crashed into the wall of the Great Hall. Out of the van climbed another dragon, who had come to help them find the secret. It was called Vintage, and it was neither male nor female. "Tell me the secret!" said Vintage. Actually, he was so cross that he didn't say it, he snapped it. "No I will not!" snapped Zarno. The humans climbed on Vintage's back, and it took off into the air and made for the top of the tallest tower. [There followed an involved discussion of what exactly Vintage needed to do in order to evade Zarno's flame. Apparently, dragon fire doesn't follow the principle that it's hotter closer to its source. But we digress.] Vintage got to the top of the tower, but then suddenly, the humans fell off his back and back down to the courtyard! Luckily, they weren't dead. Vintage looked in through the window of the highest room and saw the sleeping princess.

Vintage flew back down to the courtyard, and they all discussed what to do. Vintage knew that the enchantment could only be broken by true love's first kiss, and so they all went off to the nearest city to write the book that Shrek is reading at the beginning and end of Shrek. Today's session of storytelling ended with an inconclusive discussion of whether they handwrote the book, or printed it, or did a bit of both.