Frank is the Undisputed Ruler of Jumanji

The following is a much-delayed and heartfelt thanks to Sabra for a gift that continues to play a large role in the lives of our family:

Sorry its been so long wince we chatted or wrote, but I thought I’d update you on the Blue Camel you so kindly sent our son, Cartney.

The camel has now been named Frank. Cartney, who is now 4 and a half, bestowed this name upon the camel without any prompting from us. In fact, I am unaware of any stories or other social references that he encountered that would inspire him to name his blue camel Frank, but there it is.

And Frank is the boss of all of Cartney’s other stuffed animals, and a larger menagerie is difficult to encounter elsewhere. Giant sea turtles, large giraffes, sea lions, tigers, lions, and all other animals must pay homage to the boss, Frank.

Several weeks ago, we decided to substitute bedtime stories with “stuffed animal theater”- something we use to inspire and instruct Cartney in morals, instruction, and to preserve storytelling as an art in our family. This worked out great for a few weeks- we told the story of the big bad wolf and the three pigs, Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretyl and many other typical folklore stories- play acted by his stuffed animal citizens, but each time, Cartney insisted that Frank play a major role.

Thus, Frank ends up defeating the Big Bad Wolf; Frank shows the lost German kids the shortcut away from the Evil Witch’s house, and Frank beats up the giant before he has the chance to climb down the beanstalk and meet his expected demise at the hands of Jack.

Recently the bedtime routine has devolved to a strict enactment of “Bedtime stories about my animals with Jumanji!” which means we have to roll lego dice (its always Frank’s turn to roll) and pretend Frank, Alan (a squid), Judy (a pig) and Peter (a bat), all get sucked into the Jumanji game to run around and find new adventures in the jungle of Cartney’s imagination. (I blame Robin Williams for this!) The one constant is that Frank is always there, taking charge, defeating evil, and restoring the freedom of his trapped cohorts.

And did I mention that Frank has the ability of knock out his opponents with projectile camel farts? Yep, its true. And of course, this unique ability is bestowed upon the dimunitive Frank the Blue Camel by Cartney, and it is usually the knock-out weapon employed at the last minute to save his stuffed animal friends. And the deployment of the ultimate stinky weapon is always met with raucous laughter! Now instead of bedtime stories that induce slumber, most stories tend to rile up the child for more than an hour before he finds his way to sleep- with Frank at his side.

I hope you understand that when I tell you that Frank is a bit of a thorn in the side of Cartney’s Mom and me; it is only because this ubiquitous character foils our attempts to impart our morals to the stories that we tell, and he thus creates a challenge to our story-telling abilities. It is now no longer a telling of how to rescue Peter and Judy from Jumanji- it is a nightly game on “How do we outsmart Frank and teach the boy something?”

Anyways, I just wanted to drop you a note of deep thanks from our family for the wonderful additon of Frank to Cartney’s stuffed animal zoo and let you know that his animals have a definitive pecking order that starts with that blue camel that you so thoughtfully shipped to him a few short years ago. Because of this, we think of you often and hope that your family is doing well, and wish you all the happiness you can endure. Have a Merry Christmas Sabra!

Sabra has a blog here. She is recently back from the sands of Saudi.

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