It's difficult to bring up your kiddies on your own. My girls were respectively two and a half and five years old when my ex-wife left. My son was seven. Bedtimes started out being a bit difficult as I suppose they are with small children. I used to read to my kiddies a lot during the evenings. Thankfully they preferred that to gaping at the gogglebox.
The girls shared a room and I'd give them a bedtime story when they were tucked up. Knights in armour, castles and picnics for my eldest Hannah Ruth and the following night dolphins for Natascha Maria. Dominic James, being older, went to bed after the girls story and he had something quite different. This was in the days before it had occured to me to ask Father Christmas for three walkmans. After that I could recite stories onto tape while they were at school and just plug them in after I'd tucked them up. Children seem to like repetition and they'd want to listen to the same stories over and over. There was some careful labelling going on there.
Anyway, before my advance into electronics I used to tell stories for them. I'd extemporise but Dominic was a bit more difficult. He had no interest in picnics or dolphins. I needed something different and an old film I'd seen (Fantastic Voyage) gave me an idea. I postulated to Dominic that he'd been shrunken to a quarter of an inch in height and used to land a disc shaped aircraft in the garden to explore.
The control room was at the top with a panoramic window. This was made of a special glass which allowed Dominic to look out but appeared black from outside so nobody could see him. There was a huge control panel which I left deliberately vague. There were lots of monitors to give an outside view in all directions. But, the most important was a screen linked to tracked robotic devices with cameras that were stored in the lower (third) level. Dominic could send these out to explore while he sat safe and warm in his ship. It was always night time in his stories and usually raining. Sheets of water running down the window. Sometimes lightning and the sound of thunder.
There used to be a large ants nest just outside my kitchen door. About ten feet by eight judging by the exit tunnels. Dominic had seen lots of diagrams of ants nests in books and so he could visualise what was under the ground. We'd park on the small rockery and send his camera down there and he could look at the fungus farms and the pupae. The runoff caverns that stopped the place flooding in wet weather. And the aphids that were kept by the ants for their milk.
One night his camera stopped working and he needed to take his own personal tractor into the nest to recover it. This was still a tiny thing with a perspex cupola so he could see all 'round. We soon found the camera which had been knocked over and once it was back on its tracks it went to the ship on remote control. Dominic moved on to see the queen. I had my arm over his chest and could feel his heart beat faster as he saw the queens chamber with her soldiers guarding her.
We didn't hang around the ants nest all the time though. Near the bottom of my garden there's a large bush. I've no idea what it is. Thought it was a sycamore when it started growing but it turned into a bush about eight feet across and seven high. Very heavy foliage and the first horizontal branches start about eighteen inches from the ground.
The tractors were no use in there so Dominic had a tiny flying camera with four legs. That could hop up to the branches and walk about. Even the moonlight couldn't shine under there so there was a searchlight on his machine that could be pointed in all directions. There were pupae of moths. Aphids, flowers and fungi that grow in dim light or total darkness. It was quite exciting. Once there was a Humblebee but he was asleep.
Finally, at the bottom of my garden there's a big hole. I dump garden waste in there and there's the remains of a wooden picnic table and benches. There's also at least three mouse nests. It was great fun to describe to Dominic how he'd slowly guide his ship in the confined spaces and set her down. Once he got out of the ship without his tractor to look more closely at three sleeping baby mice. He touched one on the nose and its nose was much larger than his hand.
I'd see him in the daylight, out in the garden looking at the places we'd explored during his bedtime stories. When the ants swarmed he was so excited (they swarm once every two years in mid-July).
The centre deck of the ship was his living quarters. There was one of those fancy star trek machines that give you whatever food or drink you want just by pressing a few buttons. A telly and a games console which he never used. And his bed off to the right. Tired after his adventures he'd crawl into that and be out like a light. Some of the time he'd be asleep before the adventure was over.
Actually, bringing my kiddies up wasn't that difficult at all.