After writing more of my novel and yet another terrifying short story, I thought it was time to give my son another bedtime story. This might also have been motivated by his resistance to going to bed on time, and his wonderful ideas to do anything but go to sleep.
When Little Tommy was six years old, he got a pet dragon from his dad. The dragon’s name was Eustace, and he was Tommy’s very best friend. They watched cartoons together, they played superheroes and robots together, and they ate blueberry pancakes together.
One night, Tommy asked his parents if he could sleep outside with Eustace. Tommy begged. He said that it was summer, and he had no school. He said Eustace’s wings could be very comfy. Tommy said he hated bedtime, but a slumber party with his best friend would make it all better.
Tommy’s mom was very skeptical, but his dad was more easily convinced. Eustace had been his dad’s dragon before he was Tommy’s, and he remembered sleeping outside with the dragon when he was camping. Tommy’s parents came to a decision together. Mom said he could do it, but dad would have to make sure Tommy went to sleep.
As soon as they told him the plan, Tommy grabbed his sleeping bag and his pillow. He ran out to give Eustace the good news. Eustace just thumped his tail against a tree to show his approval of the idea.
“Can I sleep out here with you, Eustace?”
“All night! We’ll have a slumber party!”
Tommy’s dad warned him that he still needed to go to sleep when it got dark, and Tommy said he understood. Tommy said he would go right to sleep after his dad told him two stories.
Tommy’s dad made sure he was comfy with his pillow and sleeping bag, then he told him a magical story about Tommy, Eustace, and a pancake tree they found in the forest.
Tommy loved the story and asked for one more. This time, his dad told him a story about superheroes, bad guys, and a time machine. He even threw in a few poop jokes just to make sure Tommy was listening.
That story made Tommy’s sides hurt, he was laughing so much, but he said it left Eustace out. The dragon was closing his eyes and didn’t seem to mind, but Tommy begged for another story.
“I’m sorry, but that was two stories,” his dad said. “You can have another story tomorrow morning.”
“But I need two more! Two about Eustace!”
“No, you need to sleep.”
“Eustace can’t sleep without another story. What’s one more story?”
The big dragon kept his eyes closed and didn’t help Tommy at all. Tommy changed tactics.
“Okay, I can go to sleep after I get some water.”
Tommy’s dad had already planned ahead, and he pulled a fresh water bottle from behind his back.
“Here you go, Tommy. I’ll see you in the morning.”
His dad went inside and left Tommy with a final hug and a kiss for Eustace. Tommy took a couple of sips before laying his head down and trying to sleep.
Almost an hour later, Tommy’s parents heard banging in the kitchen, and his dad stumbled out to find Tommy holding a mixing bowl and a spatula.
“What are you doing?”
“Eustace wants blueberry pancake.”
“Of course, right now!” Tommy declared.
Both father and son looked out the big windows to the backyard to see his pet dragon fast asleep.
“Tommy, you need to let him sleep, and it’s well past your bedtime.”
“Pancakes in the morning?”
“If I don’t see or hear you again, I will make pancakes for the whole family. You can help.”
Tommy put his bowl and spatula back and padded out to lay down with Eustace. He laid back down and tried really hard to sleep until he had another idea.
Tommy decided that Eustace wanted to play. He quietly gathered his favorite action figures and brought them outside. He nudged and poked the dragon awake to play with him.
Tommy’s dad saw this, but decided he was too tired to get involved. He watched Tommy prod the sleeping dragon, and he watched Eustace try to push the little boy away. The more Tommy poked the big dragon, the more Eustace tried to make Tommy lay down under his big wings. Tommy’s dad decided that they would have to figure it out, and he went back to bed.
The next morning, Tommy’s dad went looking for Tommy. It was late, but Eustace was still hard asleep outside. His dad checked around Eustace, but he saw no signs of a little boy. Tommy’s dad went back inside to find Tommy asleep in his bed. He prodded Tommy awake.
“How was your slumber party, buddy?”
“I don’t think dragons like little boy slumber parties. He just wanted to sleep, and he got a little grumpy.”
“That’s okay. I think a big plate of blueberry pancakes will make it all better. You still ready to help me?”
Tommy crawled slowly out of bed, padded his way into the kitchen, and helped his dad start stirring the batter. By the time the pancakes were coming off the griddle, Eustace was thumping his tail against the tree again to show his happiness. Tommy knew that all was forgiven, and he started thinking about the next slumber party he would have with his dragon.