Things in the world may be wackadoodle and unpredictable, but if you can find something to make you chuckle a little bit, then things seem just a wee bebe bit better.
Since we’re all homebound (or we sure as hell all should be by now!) with your kiddos like we are, I thought I’d share with you what started as a fun idea for my youngest daughter. I’m a writer, but I’m not getting much work done with all six of us home, so I decided to pen a silly story about my daughter Maggie today that would serve as a scavenger hunt and a walk for my ten-year-old around our fabulous neighborhood. I thought it wasn’t half bad and she liked it, and so then I decided to share it with my whole neighborhood so all those kids could do it too if they wanted. Lastly, I took a walk tonight and hung Christmas ornaments in the trees of all the spots for kids to find as they walked and their parents read to them. We’ll see how it works out.
I write this because I’m giving it to you and your neighborhoods too. You might not have a big huge rock in the middle of your neighborhood or three islands like we do, but you surely have things that make your neighborhood unique. Use them. Take my story, literally copy and paste right from here, change the names if you want, change the locations and string up some ornaments. Voila…you have a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Easy peasy! Then you can get your family outside for a much needed break with things just stressful! Just stay 6 feet away from all your neighbors and wash your hands when you get home!
Once upon a time there was a girl named Maggie and what Maggie wanted the most was to be a pirate. When her mom would ask her if she wanted to be a scientist when she grew up, she’d say, “No thanks. I’ll be a pirate.” When her dad would ask if she wanted to be the principal of a school, she’d shake her head and say, “The pirate life is the life for me, Dad.” When her Nana would ask her if she wanted to be a doctor or a nurse, she’d say, “Aaaarg, Nana. Did you not see my peg leg?” (pointing to the wooden end of a bathroom plunger she carried around with her at all times like a good pirate does)
One day, Maggie decided today was the day to start her great pirate adventure. The sun was shining brightly in the sky, plus it was Saturday and there was nothing much else to do.
After lunch, Maggie slipped into her pirate breeches (just a fancy word for pirate pants), fitted an eye patch over her left eye, tied a bright red bandana around her forehead, grabbed her toilet plunger peg leg and finally donned her prize possession, the for sure, real life pirate hat she found at a garage sale last summer. She was pretty sure there was even a speck of blood on it from a real live pirate fight from the days of yore.
“Ahoy me hearties,” Maggie called as she stood at the back door. “I be off t’ ‘ave an adventure ‘n t’ find me loot.”
“Ok, but be back for dinner and don’t leave the neighborhood, dear,” called her mom.
“And don’t get into any sword fights,” added her dad.
“Aaaargghh!” yelled Nana.
The first thing Maggie needed was a sturdy pirate ship. Her ship would need to be seaworthy, it needed to be fast, it needed to mean serious pirate business… and it needed to be in the neighborhood.
Aha! Maggie knew of the perfect thing she could use for a pirate ship! There was an enormous rock in the middle of her neighborhood that all the kids climbed on, but for today it would make the best pirate ship that had ever floated the oceans of Ingersoll Park. As quick as her peg leg would carry her, Maggie skedaddled to the boulder.
FIRST STOP: CAN YOU FIND THE BIG ROCK?
Immediately, Maggie named her ship The Royal Treat because she’d read in her Book of Important Pirate Facts and Peg Leg Trivia that her favorite pirate, Black Bart, named all his pirate ships The Royal Fortune, but she saw the words ROYAL TREAT on a poster at Dairy Queen and that sounded just a wee bit fancier to her and way more delicious to her, so The Royal Treat it was named.
With the boat christened, Maggie set sail to the East in the wide-open ocean. It didn’t take long for her to find trouble. Just up ahead was another big blue pirate ship with 4316 PIRATES ON BOARD. Mean ole pirates swung from ropes clanking their swords and clung to the ratlines yelling “Aaarrrgghhh!” and “Come any closer and we’ll cleave you to the brisket!”
STOP 2: ARE YOU GOING THE RIGHT WAY? CAN YOU FIND THE BLUE HOUSE WITH 4316 ON IT?
Oh no! Maggie didn’t even have her own pirate sword yet! She was hoping she’d find a pirate store along the way to stock up on supplies. Breathing hard, she rowed as fast as she could away from the nasty pirates and kept the look out for a good stick that would make a proper pirate sword that could protect her.
“Blimey!” Maggie shouted. “Be that land up ahead?”
Sure enough, she spied an island on the horizon and she pointed her ship in that direction. As her ship made landfall, she crept quietly ashore. Who knew what she would find on this island? Maybe monsters? Maybe a dragon? Maybe squirrels?
STOP 3: CAN YOU FIND THE ISLAND?
Peanut butter sandwiches? The entire island was filled with peanut butter sandwiches! From every tree and every bush grew thick, fluffy peanut butter sandwiches. Some were peanut butter and honey, just like Maggie liked, some were peanut butter and bananas (no thank you, if I wanted a banana, I’d eat a banana, thought Maggie) and others were peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, which until that day Maggie had never tried but after her first bite she was swooning over its deliciousness. Talk about a pirate’s booty! With her belly full and the pockets of her breeches full of sandwiches for the road, Maggie decided it was time to shove off. There was surely more pirate adventure to be had!
With the motion of the ocean, Maggie’s ship cut quickly through the waves, the Royal Treat’s sails billowing in the wind. As she lay back, steering her boat with her bare feet, because pirates most certainly went barefoot on their boats, something caught Captain Maggie’s eye. Oh yes, it’s worth noting at this point in the story Maggie had decided she would be known as Captain Maggie from here on out since she was the boss and the only passenger of The Royal Treat.
Just up ahead on the shimmering water was a box of some sort. As she sailed closer, she realized it was a Free Little Library book box and she jumped for joy as much as a pirate with a peg leg could jump for joy! In all her haste to get dressed this morning, she’d forgotten all about packing some books to read and sailing along on this boat could get a little tedious so she pulled her ship over and stopped to browse.
STOP 4: IS THERE A BOOK HERE YOU’D LIKE TO BORROW? (Parents, maybe think about dropping a book or two off at the Colvig’s library later!)
“Shiver me timbers!” Maggie shouted, as she climbed aboard The Royal Treat with a new book under her arm! “I’ve been wanting to read this one for years!” Pointing her ship to the south, Maggie settled in on the poop deck and began to read. Her ship bobbed along in the ocean until it crashed right in to another island!
“Blow me down! Wha’ was that?” Maggie hollered as she looked up from her most excellent new book. “Land ho!”
Surveying her surroundings, Captain Maggie wasn’t sure what to expect on this smaller island? Maybe jelly sandwiches this time? But alas, this island was completely empty this time of year, though the shipwrecked remnants of former lemonade stands were scattered about.
STOP 5: DID YOU FIND THE SMALLER ISLAND?
From this vantage point, Captain Maggie wasn’t sure which direction to go because she had two choices. If she went straight, she would sail to the furthest most boundary of her neighborhood where the true adventure could be. But if she sailed to the right, there could be danger up ahead.
With a heart full of courage, Captain Maggie chose to be bold and brave and explore the edges of Ingersoll Park by going straight. Out here, the waves roared a little louder, ships sailed a little faster, and she’d heard rumors of a terrible, no good, hulking, beast of a monster who lived just up ahead who ate little kids who went too far and tried to sail out of the neighborhood. Knowing she had to lay her very own eyeballs on this terrifying thing, she pressed on though her knees were knocking. She could just see the tall iron fence that caged the beast. Closer and closer she crept, ready to flee if the monster came for her. The iron bars of the fence were in front of her now and she peered through them toward the picnic table where she’d heard the beast liked to sit, sharpening his teeth. Her heart thundered in her chest and then there it was!
STOP 6: DO YOU SEE IT?
Blimey! It wasn’t a monster at all. It was just Luna, the friendly backyard pup, lounging in the sun. Instead of growling and gnashing her dangerously pointy fangs, she just waved her puppy paw and fell back to sleep.
WAVE TO LUNA!
“’Tis gettin’ late! Th’ sun be sinkin’ fast” Captain Maggie exclaimed and reluctantly turned The Royal Treat back the way she came. Sailing past the island she’d seen last, she kept on, knowing she only had time for one more adventure. But this stretch of ocean was rougher than the others and her ship was tossed around from side to side. She’d encountered rough waters before, but as Captain Maggie tightened up the ropes, she hoped she’d hit land soon before the encountered Davy Jones’ Locker. She was also completely out of sandwiches and was hoping there would be a snack of some sort at the next stop. The boat rocked and pitched and then suddenly the clouds parted and another land mass appeared.
“Heave to!” Maggie shouted to no one in particular, which meant STOP and she leapt off the ship to explore this last island.
STOP 7: DID YOU MAKE IT TO THE LAST ISLAND?
It seemed like maybe this island was empty like the last, but then she heard the commotion. In the nick of time, Maggie heard a swashbuckling group of nasty buccaneers coming. Darn, she’d forgotten again to pick up a sword, but thinking quickly she reached down for her peg leg.
“Who goes thar? I’ll fight ye ‘n defend me ship!” Captain Maggie jumped out and surprised the group of pirates. On one leg, using her peg leg as a weapon, with one hand tied behind her back just for fun, Captain Maggie easily defeated the nasty group of bilge-sucking pirates and made them all walk the plank.
Now by this time, Captain Maggie was near starving and the sun was sinking quickly on the horizon. She knew she only had minutes before Mom had dinner on the table AND it was tacos tonight, her favorite. With her peg leg back in place, she limped aboard The Royal Treat and set sail for home.
But wait…was that another Free Little Library? Though her belly was growling something fierce and the sky was nearly black, Captain Maggie couldn’t help but make one last pit stop because BOOKS!
STOP 8: DO YOU NEED TO STOP TOO? Maybe your parents could donate a book to this library too!
“I be so late. I’ve got t’ get ship!” Rowing as fast as she could, Captain Maggie flew like the wind back to the rock and parked The Royal Treat. Her adventure today was over, but she was sure to leave her ship for the other kids in the neighborhood to take for a spin whenever they needed a little excitement in the afternoon.