Okay, I used to work at Cargo Furniture when CR was about 3-5. We were a catalog-only showroom, where people could order from us, and we'd ship it to them from the middle of nowhere in Virginia. At first, I worked in Springfield Mall, but they closed it when the lease ended, so they sent me to Tyson Galleria (aka Tysons II). This was a dead, dead mall back then. I have mentioned it before.
Sometimes CR's day care would not work out. It happens as a parent. So out of the two offices, my empty, dead showroom filled with kid's furniture was a better option. He was 5 when I worked there. CR was well behaved in my store. He rarely did anything worrisome, and he followed basic rules, like "don't talk to daddy when he's with a customer." At Tysons, we had a back door for deliveries, and I was afraid when I was with a customer (sometimes it happened), he'd wander out the back. So how did I handle that?
We were right next to the freight elevator. When it was in use, it would make deep rumbling and clunking noises that would echo through the hallway and air ducts. I told him a dragon lived back there, and never to go back there without me. The dragon knew me, and would run away, but it would eat him up if he was alone. Given the noises that CR heard from time to time, and the "scorch marks" on the walls back there (for some reason, we had sections where someone sprayed black paint on the wall at regular intervals) there was no reason to doubt me.
Maybe not the *best* way to handle it, but I just couldn't resist. His eyes got big, and I made up stories about the dragon, and how angry he was because someone stepped on his foot once, and he's been mad about it ever since. I made him a sympathetic character for the most part. Like, "see, he's mad because all this happened to him, and he's not grown up enough to get over it." I think someone stole an egg from him, too. So now he lives in the back of the mall, and eats random rich people who stray beyond the doors marked "No entrance." The rich people weren't a stretch because old women in fur coats wandered the mall from time to time, and some weren't too bright. For example, I remember when an escalator stopped working, a woman stood in front of it for a while in confusion. My son understood and didn't want to be eaten by the dragon who groaned and stomped around in the back hallways.
One day, I got a package from the UPS guy while CR was there. He rang my doorbell and CR was enthralled a man in a brown suit gave me a box. "How come he doesn't get eaten?" he asked. I told the UPS guy, "my son wants to know how you can be alone in the hallway and not get eaten by the dragon who lives there."
The UPS guy froze. Luckily, he immediately saw what I was doing. "I am delivering... ah... for the genie..."
Thus, the genie was born. Men in brown suits delivered packages, leaving packages for the genie, whom the dragon was trying to eat. The genie and dragon fought a lot ever since one of them refused to pay for their half of a phone bill. I forgot most of what we made up, but as CR got a little older, he kind of knew it was all made up. And he made up stuff with it until we were laughing so hard, we were in tears.
I miss those days. There's nothing better than sharing a running gag with a kid.