It was a stunning morning, so the kids and I trekked to the park.
Sam loaded a back pack with Nerf guns, swords, water bottles and pretzel bread while the girls slammed on bike helmets and sunscreen and we all headed on our way.
Rolling up to the swings, I started the process of pushing them as high as I could (until their toes reached the tippy tops of the trees) and that's when she came...the most animated, opinionated, hoot of an 8-year old girl that I've ever met.
With her chocolate brown hair and big eyes, she looked Sam (10) square in the face and said, "Hey...we need a bad guy. I don't care who you wanna be...like a horse or a wolf or whatever kind of villain...but you need to like sports and to chase us. Got it."
Absolutely floored, I couldn't speak. I just waited to see what he did.
"What game are you playing?" he asks.
"We're playing Fairies...I'm a horse fairy...but you don't have to be a bad fairy because I know that's not cool. Just be bad and mean and quick and tell us that you're gonna kill us or something."
"Look...I've watched enough movies to know that bad guys never win, so why would I want to be the bad guy? Plus, even though I'm fast, I don't really like sports...I play flag football, not horse fairies."
"Well, I'm not an average horse fairy. Want me to punch you?"
And before I could say, "Um, let's not do that..."
She went to clock him. Luckily, he's older and taller and stronger and blocked it...but fuck...girl's got some moxie.
As they ran off to figure it out, I couldn't stop smiling thinking about what just transpired...but also about my son's reasoning for not wanting to be the bad guy.
He's heard the same narrative over and over again and clearly, so had she. There's a princess, a knight, a villain, maybe a side kick, sometimes, the tender, innocent bystander who falls on the sword...but in general, everyone plays their part.
But why? Why does the story have to go down that way? Maybe, Sam could start as the villain and through a series of circumstances or situational drama could transform into the good guy. Or maybe everyone turns into evil wolves or horses or whatever.
On my morning run as the sun was coming up and my music was blaring, it struck me. Life is so much more about how you craft it then how it shapes you. At any given moment, we decide which character we want to be and for how long and why. The narrative is ours for the creating and the telling. The power lies in our pencils and imagination and will.
Today, one little girl in the park needed a bad guy. And she was willing to punch out the best contender to garner it...that's living your story.