It began innocently enough. 

“Mommy, tell me a story.”

As a writer I realize this sounds unbelievable, but I always dreaded the day my child would ask me to make up a story on-the-spot.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because I never thought myself capable.  

I’m not sure I ever allowed myself to explore my imagination to those depths.  I’ve always envied those storytellers who were able to, so seemingly effortlessly. 

But my child was working through some hard feelings and I desperately wanted to pull through for her, so I leapt.  

The first character that came to mind was an old beat-up truck named “Tooter”.  I knew that name would make her laugh, and it did. 

Next, had to be a yellow convertible, Tooter’s wife Tulip.  Harper loves yellow and I could just see her wavy blonde hair blowing in the wind.  

And finally, Cooper (and later, his little sister Pinky), their son. 

Over the past year, we’ve woven an entire collection of Tooter stories together, taking turns filling in the blanks, covering every major moment of Harper’s life, particularly what is relative to that day: jealousy, joy, loss, fear, surprise, excitement, perseverance, truthfulness, goodness and more.  

“Mommy, tell me a Tooter story.” She pleads.  

Seconds after I’ve spent an hour lying on the floor of her youngest sister’s bedroom, in the final minutes of the day.  The moment I am more spent than any other in the last 24 hours and yet, I dig, scraping the depths of my reserves to pull through for this little girl, looking to me for answers and peace of mind before bedtime. 

Tooter’s family has become our medium of communication on topics that are too sensitive to discuss directly.  

And we are both better because of them.