Just like every night, tonight was no different. I put Toby to bed, let him watch a video on my Kindle Fire, then came in and laid down with him. Toby has tossed in a new wrinkle into our nightly routine. He wants to play “story”.

The birth of playing “story” goes back a few months when I told Toby I would tell him a story. I used his action figures to tell various stories about dragons and zombies. At some point over time, the main character became my two fingers. I used them as legs and “walked” around on them. So now, playing “story” has turned into playing “finger story”.

Again, tonight was no different, we played “finger story”. As we were playing, my fingers interacted with a few action figures. Toby authored the voices of the action figures. During this story a generic Spider-Man type figure called my two finger character a weirdo! My two finger character told generic Spider-Man that it wasn’t nice to call someone a weirdo because it could make them sad. Generic Spider-man called me a weirdo again! At this point I made my two finger character cry. I broke the 4th wall and told Toby he was sad because Generic Spider-Man called him a weirdo.

Toby looked at me for a brief second. I could tell he was processing the scene. Generic Spider-Man came over and said sorry to my two finger character. My character said it was okay and that he shouldn’t call people weirdos anymore because it makes people sad. Generic Spider-Man said okay. They high-fived and went on to play with the headless farmer and the zoo keeper named Balyssa. They jumped and flew around with Superman and finally went to bed.

Interestingly enough I found out that my two finger character was named Toby. I’m not naive enough to think that this single interaction is going to change Toby so much that he never calls anyone a weirdo again. I think the real lesson is that there are moments when you are playing with you kids that you can teach them a lesson. Too often I think as parents we just see play time as play time not opportunities to teach and learn. I learned tonight that my son knows the word weirdo and that he has either been called a weirdo or has called someone a weirdo. I also learned that my son can look at a scene and see that someone is sad and knows to apologize. The thing is, if you don’t ever play with your kids then you’ll never have these chances.


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