Recently my daughter has added asking to be told a story to her bedtime routine. She wants one each from me and my wife. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d come up with different stories every night, but then I borrowed a strategy from a friend of mine. He mentioned that he has been telling his kid Beowulf for bedtime stories. I’m not exactly up on my classics, so I told her Forrest Gump instead. Which, to be fair, is also a classic.
The great thing about using Forrest Gump, is that is has so many different stories within it you can use it all week.
Monday – Magic Shoes
One day there was a little boy who had an owie in his back. He had very strong legs, but his back was crooked like a question mark. So his Mommy took him to a special doctor who made him a pair of magic shoes. They could take him anywhere. But not everybody liked his magic shoes, and one day some mean boys were trying to take them. That little boy ran and ran as fast as he could, and he ran so fast his magic shoes few off! And he ran away from the mean boys and they never bothered him again. The end.
Tuesday – Football and Pee
One day there was a boy who could run so fast, a school wanted him to come play football for them. So he went to play football. When the other team kicked him the ball, he would catch and run as fast as he could until he scored a touchdown. He liked to run and score touchdowns so much, that everybody who came to watch the game would have to yell at him to stop! He was so good at playing football that the President invited him to a fancy dinner, where we could eat and drink as much as he wanted! Well he drank too much and when it was his turn to say hello to the President, instead of saying hello, he said he had to pee! The end.
Wednesday – Ping Pong
One day there was a man who really liked to play ping pong. He was so good, he got invited to go all the way to China to play! When he went to go play everybody was so proud of him that they put a picture of his face on the ping pong paddle!
Note: I know this one is short, but editing out all Vietnam and Bubba getting killed really doesn’t leave much from this chunk of the movie to be re-told to little ears. The other option would just be to list as many shrimp dishes as you can. Your choice.
Thursday – Shrimp Boat Captain
One day a man decided to buy a boat and name in Jenny so he could go out and catch shrimp. He had never been a shrimp boat captain before, but he made a promise to his best friend that he would, so he decided to try. At first he wasn’t very good at catching shrimp, but he tried and he tried. Then a friend of his came to help and they started to catch more shrimp. But a big storm came and all the other boat captains said it was too dangerous to go out to catch shrimp, but the man and his friend weren’t scared of the storm. The big storm pushed their little boat all over water, but they kept on catching shrimp. When the storm was over the man and his friend caught all the shrimp in the water. The end.
Friday – He Just Felt Like Running
One day a man was sitting on his front porch when just felt like running. So he stood up and ran to the end of his drive way. And for no particular reason at all, he just kept going. Then he ran all the way though the city. And for no particular reason all, he just kept going. And he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore because he ran to the edge of ocean! But he still wanted to run, so he turned around and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran and he ran all the way to the other ocean! He just kept running back and forth until one day he stopped. The end.
So that right there gets you through the work week. If you wanted to go into the weekend and maybe add something in there about finding out he had an illegitimate with a woman who later dies of AIDS, that’s your call.
The week of Forrest Gump was just the start. I’ve told extremely short and G rated versions of The Breakfast Club, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Iron Will, The Great Gatsby, Armageddon, Avatar, and Predator. I’ll admit that Predator was a stretch, and really just an excuse for me to tell my daughter to GET TO DE CHOPPA! I’ve also expanded into songs a bit. She really enjoyed my retelling of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, though she also really enjoys that song so it was a pretty safe bet.
In theory this can go on forever. At no point in her story asking for years (or probably her life) see as many movies as I have, so the challenge won’t be to keep coming up with new ones, but to see how I can make very non-child appropriate movies into cuddle appropriate bedtime stories. Obviously The Godfather needs to happen. Die Hard is a must. Speed would be a good one. The options are endless.
I know it won’t go on forever. No one part of the bedtime routine ever seems to last for more than a few months, and despite my best efforts she’ll grow up and not want bedtime stories at all. But when she gets older I’ll watch at least some of these movies with her, and maybe somewhere hurried deep in her brain she’ll recognize something and ask “Dad, did you steal this movie for my bedtime stories?” To which I’ll reply “No sweetie, I wrote this movie.”