For the past two weeks, the four-year-olds have been going on strike. E., the ring leader, will look at me and say, "We're not going to tell any more stories," and then go sit on the stairs that lead to the light booth, and the other two girls will follow her. Or they'll say, "We want to go home." Or, "We're not doing anything except princesses."
We've played the game where they're magic elves who live in the walls, and I'm a painter, and they come out at night when I go home and "paint" the room with their bodies. We've done freeze dance to the Talking Heads. We've played the circus, where they "ride a bus" to the circus and "eat" cotton candy and then play all the circus acts. But I'm running out of ideas. This Saturday I think I'm going to bring markers and paper lunch bags and we'll make hand puppets.
When they go on strike, they will refuse to do Where the Wild Things Are. They will refuse Jack and the Beanstalk, Olivia, and Little Red Riding Hood. They will only do this story I made up for them:
Once upon a time there were two princess sisters who lived in a castle. Every day, they rode their unicorns across the meadows and through the fields until they became hungry, and then they stopped by a stream to eat their picnic lunch. One day, they saw something shimmer in the stream. It was a mermaid! They gasped. Hello, she said. Hello, the princesses said. Then they rode their unicorns back home. But the mermaid had a secret. She used to be a princess, but an evil witch had turned her into a mermaid, and all she dreamed of was turning back into a girl. The next day, the princess sisters got back on their unicorns and rode across the meadows and through the fields until they came to the stream where the mermaid lived. Can you help me?, the mermaid asked. They went home and got all their magical potions and brought them to her. The mermaid drank them. She could feel something strange take over her body. She took one step, and then another, and soon she was walking. She got on one of the unicorns and went to go live in the castle. The end.