At tea-time tonight we tried making a list of horrible things that might happen to the 6-year old's main character. She wasn't able to embrace the idea of horrible things. I was touched by her innocence and sweetness. She thought perhaps the problem might be that her protaganist might fall...off a swing. Or in the playground, six times. Her 5-year old brother suggested brightly that she might fall on a railway line and get dead, and R sucked in her lips and said, 'Well, it would have to be a toy railway line. And it would have to be switched off.'
Trying to persuade her to include any real peril was difficult. We moved onto things that might happen at school that were bad. Could the baddie (Evil Boy Cousin) do something naughty? Perhaps he might damage something valuable of the teacher's...? Oh, she liked that. He might steal a pencil. Bless her. We brainstormed for ten minutes, with her brother interjecting several interesting and dangerous scenarios, while she...didn't. At the end, there was perhaps one that stood out, involving getting lost in a cave. And I felt strangely proud of the fact that in her world, at the moment, falling over in the playground, or stealing a pencil are the worst things she can imagine.
We finished the session with me scribbling down a story for the five year old, who was so desperate to be involved. It went like this:
A bad boy called Luke put Jessie in a rocket that was about to blast off. It went to the moon and bashed into it. Jessie fell out all the way home, and broke her arm and had to go to hospital. Her mum was cross with her, and so was her dad and the doctor and all the other patients.
Oh, the simple joy of an unfettered imagination.