Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Sunday evening gathering of the Tuna clan at large was a particularly jovial evening. The event at hand was the birthday dinner celebration of a certain 8-year old Niece. Dinner was a spaghetti-type affair with lots of "yums" heard throughout the house. The two girls barricaded themselves in TinyTuna's bedroom with the door closed. "Do Not Desterb!" [sic] the sign read. "Please Knock. We are doing Art Projects." It was cute, and they were quiet, so I didn't complain. TinyTuna later told me they really put the sign up to keep away my Nephew. She thought about writing, "No boys allowed", but changed her mind because she didn't want to hurt his feelings. I explained that he was only four, so she could have written "I eat dog food" and he wouldn't have known because he can't read. But I thought it was sweet that she was thinking about him.

Even the adults were in fairly high spirits. At one point, Older Brother Tuna was playing with the four year old, doing the classic "why are you hitting yourself -- why are you hitting yourself" routine. To explain for those without older siblings, cousins, or other demented relatives, this involves grabbing the other person's hand and forcibly making them smack themselves. Of course, the instigator should be stronger than the victim, otherwise turnabout will not only be fair play, it will be twice as brutal.

"I see some things never change," I laughed as the good-natured punching and giggling continued.

That evening I also taught my nephew rock-paper-scissors (no volcano) and the famous "look at that bird" ploy so he could "sneaked" a snack. There were a lot of birds that night, and every time he would grin, laugh and then yell, "I tricked you!" It's so great to be four.

Towards the end of the evening, the discussion turned to "Flat Stanley." Evidently, Flat Stanley is a book about a boy who gets smooshed flat by a bulletin board, and then travels around the world in an envelope. The character is used for different educational units (like geography or writing) in the public schools. Each child gets a Flat Stanley and then mails it to someone who might take pictures or write in a journal about his adventures, and then they mail it to someone else. And so on and so on and so on. In a couple weeks, Flat Stanley returns, with photos, souvenirs and stories of his adventures.

They asked me if TinyTuna had ever done the Flat Stanley project. I said no, but I thought it was a clever idea. And then we started dreaming up scenarios, and predictably, the whole conversation took a dive straight into the gutter. Stanley goes to a gentlemen's club and learns about the letter G. Stanley goes to the airport and gets sent through the X-Ray machine. Oh, Stanley we have to check your shoes. Where are the scissors?? Stanley gets frisked by security. Stanley has an unfortunate encounter with a paper shredder....

And on and on it went, amidst howls of laughter from the adults. The kids dismissed the notion as if it were nothing more than crack-induced hysteria. But that didn't stop us. We even gave Stanley a voice, although it suspiciously sounded a lot like Mr. Bill.

All of this makes me wonder about starting our own Flat Stanley project for 2004. It could "real" or "virtual". With so many creative people lurking around these parts, I have no doubts that Flat Stanley would have the journey of a lifetime. But maybe instead of Flat Stanley, it should be Flat Fisty.

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