Monday, October 3, 2011

Mega-Narrative Versus Crocosaurus

"I have references! Rawr!"
I love a lot of things about my kids. But one of the most amazing things about them is their ability to take elements that are supposed to be scripted (like movies and toys and such) and take them wildly off script. It is endlessly entertaining. Almost every day I need to stop whatever I am doing just to listen to the craziest story ever told. These stories frequently involve the same cast of characters. Crocosaurus, Crack-Bear, and Commander Taviri are a part of the core group. Other bit players come in and out, including Rainbow Baby and Bluke. The kids take turns being "in charge" of certain characters, and each kid can have a very different take on the backstory. It gets confusing.

I realize this takes a little explaining. (Especially Crack-Bear. I totally take the blame for that.) So let me do a little Dramatis Personae for you.

Crocosaurus is a crocodile toy, given to us years ago by a good friend. He is frequently involved with fighting bad guys and protecting others. He also watches babies. He's kind of a reptilian nanny beast. He's meaner when Arkaedi is in charge of him.

Crack-Bear is the bad guy. He was named after an unfortunate slip of the tongue by Papa. The bear had just shown up out of nowhere when we were living in a sketchy neighborhood, and I had no idea where he had wandered in from... so I told the kids that they could have the crack bear if I washed it. Viri of course named him Crack-Bear immediately, and my careless talk had created a nemesis for every other toy. Viri frequently tries to reform him, and make him good. According to Arkaedi, however, he should be sent away. That girl has no compassion.

Commander Taviri is the space faring warrior alter-ego of Taviri. He has a magic watch, a super ship, and many hundreds of powers and gadgets. He's basically a Silver Age Superman, he can do anything until the narrative requires a challenge.

In addition to these core stories, there are hundreds of little variants. Many of these are cars and trucks who need cared for or helped. Rainbow Baby is a stock car who frequently runs into trouble and needs to be saved. Bluke is another car in peril. (A "blue car," hence Bluke. Arkaedi was proud of that one.) The cars names are a source of contention for the kids. Arkaedi is a fan of pun based names, or colorful ones. So there is a Cocoa, a Mac...

I wish I could convey the endless variety that these games take. It's astounding. It's like a scene from Toy Story if Andy were simultaneously channeling every science fiction image, fairy story, and PBS cartoon ever made. It's wonderful.

I still feel a little bad about Crack-Bear. He's an okay guy, he just has a problem. If Commander Taviri spent less time fighting Evil and more time building planetary treatment facilities...


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