It’s a chilly Sunday morning, and my family, stuffed with French toast and bacon, is lounging around at home. While Mommy and Daddy would love some peace and quiet to simply drink coffee and digest our carbs and sodium, the children have other plans. The Enforcer plops herself down next to us and cheerfully announces, “I’m going to tell you a story!”
And what a story it is. It’s, um, a ghost story, I guess? I don’t really know how to categorize it. I’ll let you judge for yourself. So, I give you, with some trepidation and a warning that you may not want to share this story with your own offspring, The Enforcer’s story:
The Fuud-Pwedder and the Undead Owl
Sort of a choose-your-own-adventure tale, and sort of something unsettling in which your brain gets assaulted and you have no choice at all.
By The Enforcer, age 4
Paraphrased and with editorial commentary added by the author’s mother.
Enforcer: “Once upon a time, there was a fuud-pwedder.”
Me: “Wait, what is it? What word are you saying?”
Enforcer: “A FUUD-PWEDDER!”
Because as anyone who has ever tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language knows, shouting makes your meaning ABUNDANTLY CLEAR.
Me: “Right. A fuud-pwedder. Of course. Continue.”
Enforcer: “The fuud-pwedder is a kind of bird. So he was walking along and he saw a worm and he ate it.”
So far so good. A nice story about a bird, going for a walk, eating worms.
Enforcer: “Then, the fuud-pwedder sees a tree. And guess what’s inside the tree?”
Me: “Um, I don’t know. What?”
Enforcer: “An owl. Only something is wrong. The owl is supposed to be in the ground, because HE’S DEAD. But he comes alive again. And now he’s in a tree.”
And this is where the story takes a dark turn…
Me: “Wow. Something is wrong, all right. That’s kind of awful.”
Enforcer: “Yes. It is awful. When you’re dead, you’re supposed to stay in the ground. But the owl didn’t. He’s in the tree. And he’s mean.”
Husband, helpfully: “So now there’s an angry, decaying owl hanging out in a tree? I feel like I’ve seen this movie before…”
Me: “What the hell kind of movies are you watching??”
2-year-old: “SHHHH! Everybody shhhhh! Mommy, no laughing! Listen to the story!”
The Enforcer: “So the owl starts going for a walk with the fuud-pwedder. They come to a place with three paths. One path is with a ribbit-ing frog, one path is with a wolf, and one path is with a dragon. Which one do you think they should choose?”
Husband: “Definitely not the dragon.”
Me: “I think they should go with the ribbit-ing fr…”
Enforcer: “THEY CHOOSE THE WOLF.”
Me: “Seems like a risky choice, but ok…”
Enforcer: “It’s ok because the wolf EATS the mean, dead owl that’s supposed to be in the ground.”
Me: “Oh, well that’s good then.”
Enforcer: “But the owl BITES through the wolf’s tummy and comes crashing out.”
Me: “Jesus Chr…”
Husband: makes gargly noises and mimes a horrifying alien erupting from Sigourney Weaver’s midsection.
Enforcer: “And then both the wolf and the owl die. They’re dead. Dead, dead, dead. They died.”
Me: “Well that sounds pretty final this time. What happens to the fuud-pwedder?”
Enforcer: “He stays alive. Forever and ever. And he goes back to his valley where everyone is happy and everything is nice. THE END.”
Me: “At least there’s a happy ending, I guess.”
Husband: “So the fuud-pwedder was really just an observer of all this madness.”
Me: “Yeah, like some of the great classic narrators, like in The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw…”
Two-year-old: “Mommy and Daddy, what are you even talkin’ about? You not makin’ any sense.”
Right. Mommy and Daddy are obviously the nonsensical ones in this whole scenario. Sheesh.
Disclaimer: For the record, The Enforcer, like her sisters, is only allowed to watch nice, age-appropriate TV shows like Dora the Explorer and Reading Rainbow. In fact, her father is dying to show her Star Wars, since she has no idea what it is and calls it “the show with Yodo the green sheep, and the mean guy, Dark Vader,” but her mother maintains that she’s too young and will have nightmares. So this story is not the result of letting preschoolers watch Game of Thrones. I swear.