Understudies and Walk-Ons

He wasn’t supposed to be a main character. He was supposed to show up as a “special edition” figure, festive and well-timed for the Thanksgiving holiday season. Yet here he was, Gobby the Turkey, now front and center of every story I tell my son before he drifts off to sleep.

To help my son relax at night we’d been singing songs together, but somehow one night that wasn’t working so I decided to tell him a story. Completely winging it, I started crafting little vignettes of a boy just his age, no younger and no older, with a green bicycle just like his riding around the neighborhood and into the woods. There were birds, rabbits, squirrels, a Mr. Owl, and – channeling my inner Mo Willems – even a bear named Oso. So naturally the night before Thanksgiving a new character, Gobby the Turkey, had to make an appearance. And every night since then, after having some milk and kissing Mama goodnight, my son lays next to me in bed and in his perfectly innocent 2-year-old voice, asks, “Tell story Gobby Turkey?”. How can I say no to that?

So every night I add a little more to the narrative, crafting a world for Gobby and my son rife with adventures, lessons, and relatable experiences to foster the wonderment of his mind. Yet for me it is so much more than a story. It’s a shared bond, something completely spontaneous and unique in his life that only he and I have. Something I can seed, nurture, and grow until dissolved one day by the hands of time.

My wife has suggested I write all the stories down. I may just do that, perhaps as a part of something bigger. There’s been a new story every day for over 2 weeks now so the details are fading quickly from my memory. But no matter what the adventure, every story now starts out the exact same way:

“Once upon a time, there was a turkey, and his name was Gobby. Gobby the Turkey lived in a field with all his turkey friends, and in that field they had swings and a BIG slide to play on……”


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