Speaking of rituals, my daughter and I also have a daily (nightly) ritual.
After baths, and tooth brushing, and book reading my wife and I split up the kids for ni-night time (this is a destinct advantage to man-on-man defense, as opposed to my cousin who has four kids. He and his wife have a strictly “zone” strategy). My wife takes the boy to his room for song, snuggles, etc. and I get the girl. She snuggles under the covers, I tuck her in and then if it isn’t too late, and if she’s been good that day, I lay down next to her and we watch a quick 10 minute YouTube clip on my iPhone. Although I certainly wouldn’t reccomend this technique to anyone else (The addictive nature of videos is beyond dispute and getting to bed/sleep without the video is more challenging than it sould be — but the genie is already out of that bottle) it does provide a good opportunity to calm down and get in a little daddy/daughter one-on-one snuggle time. Additionally, it’s also proved an invaluable method of exposing my little girl to some of the cooler (dorkier) things that she wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Naturally we’ve made our way through most of the Disney movies, but we’ve also managed to watch together (in 10 minute incriments) amongst other things ”Charlotte’s Web”, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp), 1983′s “Annie”, “The Muppet Movie” various episodes of “The Superfriends” “Scooby Doo” and “The Smurfs” and we are currently working our way for the 2nd or 3rd time (at her request) through the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated version of “The Hobbit”.
I credit this version of “The Hobbit” with sparking my interest in Tolkien. The animation itself is rather clunky, but the production value is through the roof. When I was very young my parents bought me the vinyl record recording of the movie that came with an illustrated picture book. I played that record over and over. There was just something about the voice acting, and the illustrations (taken from the movie) and the music (especially the music) that resonated with me.
I am not exagerating when I say that did a book report, in one form or another, on Tolkien every single year from 5th grade until I graduated college. I went out of my way to find the companion illustrated full-text printing of ”The Hobbit” on Ebay so that when I do eventually read the full book to my kids, they can associate the same images with the story that I do.
Last night we came to the part in the story where Bilbo first finds The Ring, and first meets Gollum. They engage in a battle of literary wits, dueling with riddles in a scene that many literary critics have made much fuss over. It’s interesting to watch my daughter’s progression as a consumer of stories. This go around she took particular exception to the fact that so many “goodguys” in the movie were smoking (atta girl). When we came to the riddle scene with Gollum last night she was totally engaged. “Why does Gollum want to eat him?” “Does he know Bilbo has his ring?” “Why does he keep saying ‘my precious’?” “Who he talking to?” (Gollum talks to himself and/or his ring quite often). Then there were the riddles themselves. Usually our 10 minute YouTube time calms her down before sleep. But the exchange between Bilbo and Gollum (and Gollum and himself) got her little wheels turning. It was no easy task getting her to sleep after that.
My little girl may not be the only kid entering kindergarten in the fall who’s heard of “Gollum” or “The Hobbit”. But I’ll wager she’ll be the only kid who knows the answer to the riddle “A box without hinges, key or a lid. Yet golden treasure inside is hid”.
The answer is “an egg” by the way.