Meet Grandma Crankypants!

I’ve always enjoyed reading stories to my children, but recently I’ve become interested in learning how to tell my own. You’d think as a writer, this would come naturally to me. But, no, definitely not. All that means is that I am painfully aware how poor my first (and second, and third…tenth) attempt to tell a story really is. And it’s not like my four and seven-year-old rambunctious boys are going to be patient if I decide to engage in a little verbal revision.

So I found myself constantly running out of ideas for new stories to tell my boys (although, I have discovered that as long as I put a dragon, and a battle or two in there somewhere, they’re pretty happy).

Late one afternoon my boys were bouncing off the walls and needed a story to settle them down. I didn’t like the way I’d seen them treating their friend earlier in the day, so out of tiredness and frustration, I started telling them the story Grandma Crankypants Goes to Kindergarten.

Grandma Crankypants (who, in my imagination, has blue hair, horn-rimmed glasses, and a perpetual frown) gets sent to Kindergarten because she needs to learn manners. I usually cast my four-year-old son (who will enter kindergarten this fall) in the role of the child tasked with chaperoning Grandma Crankypants at school and teaching her the appropriate way to act in the classroom and on the playground. I cannot tell you how much he loves getting to tell Grandma Crankypants what to do. And if I’m not mistaken, he seems a little less afraid of starting Kindergarten than he did two months ago.

We have since told a couple of different Grandma Crankypants tales, including Grandma Crankypants Fights an Alien, and pretty soon, I think I’m going to introduce my boys to Grandma Crankypants’s hubby…Grandpa Stuffyshirt.

What about you? Do you ever tell stories to the children in your life? Have you ever started tellingΒ  one to make a point instead of giving them a lecture? How did they respond?

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17 Responses to Meet Grandma Crankypants!

  1. Sounds like you have a new book series started! πŸ™‚

    • Maybe! Although I’ll have to get better at ending my tales because our current favorite, when my kids are ready to move on, is for someone to say, “And then they all died. The end!!”

      • There’s nothing wrong with an abrupt ending. πŸ™‚

        I love your stories. They are fun to listen to and the kids really enjoy them too. It makes me smile that the boys can learn some values they need too – without even really fully understanding that they were the ones acting like Grandma Crankypants in the first place. Genius!!

        • Thanks! We’ll see how long before they catch on! I’d like to see you develop more of your own characters, too. I’m definitely not the only storyteller in our house!

      • Heidi says:

        Let me know if you need an illustrator for your Grandma Crankypants children’s book franchise. πŸ˜‰

        Great idea though!

  2. I want to hear a Grandma Crankypants story! Puh-lease!

    While watching Nick Jr. one day, my 6yo asked me the names of the two Nickelodeon frogs. Having no idea, I said the first two names that came to mind: Jimminy and Hoppity. Since then, we’ve made up a zillion different Jimminy and Hoppity adventures. My kids are, by far, my favorite audience and they never let me get away with sloppy storytelling! πŸ™‚

  3. Shannon- I’ll tell you a Grandma Crankypants story if you tell me a Jimminy and Hoppity story!

  4. Rachael says:

    My Mom & Aunt used to pretend they were snotty twins and they would compete for who their “mom” liked best. My younger cousin was about three and would play their mom. It was too cute because they would fight and my little cousin would say, “goyls no. I wuv you bowf equawwee.”

    I love Grandma Cranky Pants, reminds me of “interactive” story time at my house!

    • Rachael-
      Thanks for stopping by! What a cute idea, I might have to use that idea with my boys. I’ll bet they’d love to play the role of “Daddy.” (Particularly if it meant they got to give time-outs!)

  5. Jenny,

    Yes! I kind of used to freak out when my kids would ask me to tell them a story because I’m so bad at it, and like you, start thinking of revisions. But then I set out to stop worrying and figured I’d have some fun and just tell a crazy, terrible one. I did the voices and threw the characters (my kids) into crazy situations that they magically just got out of and my kids loved it. And I had lots of fun.

    Love the concept of Grandma Crankypants. I especially love the “and then they all died” ending! Too funny.

  6. Jenny- I just started doing voices for them. I don’t think I’m very good at it though, because the boys will stop me and say, “Can you please not talk like that?” If my book ever gets made into an audio CD I don’t think they’ll be asking me to do it!

  7. Our family likes to build stories together, usually when we’re in the car. We each say a sentence building on what the last person said. The stories can get pretty ridiculous sometimes, but it’s fun to be creative together πŸ™‚

  8. What a great idea! I almost always just read to them, but making up a story of “our” own would be so much fun!

    My 4yo will NOT let me paraphrase books on the fly – he will stop me, take me back to the page and part I missed then tell me what I should have said!!!

  9. Alison-
    Ah- I hate it when they get old enough to know when you’re skipping words/phrases. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading to them, but after a long day, sometimes story time needs to be cut short!

  10. Lisa Allen says:

    I started telling my own stories to the kids after seeing you do it and how much the boys loved it. 90% of the time I put a drgaon in it and he loves it. I also have started a new series from an idea by Jason – Captain & Princess characters. The kids are always the stars and fight the bad guys, of course. Usually it is out of fun, but I do try to throw in a moral sometimes.