Saturday, September 29, 2012

The King's Well Runs Dry

Every morning the King would refresh himself by drinking from a well within the castle courtyard.  He would take a good long drink, and start his day being King, and being a father.  After a while he noticed he was pulling less and less out with each morning's bucketful.

Then one day the well ran dry.  There was nothing left to pull up and the King went thirsty.  He went through with his fatherly duties, but couldn’t remember why.  He felt like he had sung every lullaby, played every game, cajoled Shark Boy into behaving, cleaned food off the Lightning Kid’s face a thousand times or more, and his only reward would be yelling, crying or even screaming.  He hadn’t always felt like he knew what he was doing as a father, but suddenly the work seemed not just challenging and demanding but rather like pointless drudgery.  Even when exhausted, he’d been able to find some spark within himself to do whatever was needed by his family at any given moment, at least, until that day.

He tried talking to the Queen.  She was sympathetic, and equally tired.  She spoke of the times that she had lost patience with the experience of parenthood.  The King felt stupid; every parent experienced fatigue and all found the behaviour of their children taxing at times.  He read his own words back to himself in his mind, and surmised that they sounded like pointless whining.  He worried that if he tried to discuss it further with the Queen, if he tried to elaborate how empty he felt, she would worry about him, and fear that she’d be caring for the children without his full support.

Despairing, he left the castle for a walk in the woods.  Once he was in deep enough and he thought no-one would hear him, he cried out:

“Can one simply lose the magic that is within?  The magic that makes us do what is necessary as parents... can it simply disappear?!?!”

“Yes...” came the answer from the tree canopy above.  He looked up and saw a red-haired pixie.  “And it doesn’t last.  Honest.  Your heart won’t let it.”  The King thanked the pixie, and returned to the castle, determined to at least try and get one good night’s rest.  When he woke up the next morning, he was able to pull a quarter-bucket’s worth from the well.  The day was still difficult, but he found himself smiling more at the antics of the children, and there were more hugs and less crying and screaming.  He also managed to take enough time for himself to get some exercise; more than the usual amount in fact.  The day after, the bucket came back full, and the King drank deeply, refreshing his soul.  He’d known that he’d have to be patient with his children, but know he knew that he had to be patient with himself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Lightning Kid and the New Healers

The Lightning Kid had gone from being able to sit when placed to being able to raise himself into sitting from his belly.  He’d become so proficient in the latter that the King had even seen him prop himself into a sit while technically asleep - much to the King’s over-fatigued, under-slept chagrin.  

Still the young prince’s progress was pleasing to everyone and was very much in keeping with his previous track record as a ‘superstar’.   Yet his 10 month birthday came, and he was still unable to crawl.  While this was by no means a great delay for any child, even a typical one, the King and Queen could not help but worry a little.

He had been developing fantastically, and had a personality that was dynamic, active and inquisitive.  The Lightning coursing through his system was not only powering his hair, but all his movements - he had a wild dance where he’d swing his head from side to side to greet or entertain people he liked, to his ability shoot out a hand like a snake and snatch things that seemed out of reach, to his freakish strength when grabbing things or trying to squirm out arms that were trying to rock him to sleep.  These were remarkable even in a land of Shark Boys, Two-Headed Monsters and Magical Bubbles.

Crawling was something he would need, but in his case, the sooner the better.  The King and Queen hoped to curtail any of the delays that were anticipated with his condition; whether this was an actual delay or not.  They had the means and resources to pursue the assistance of an extra healer, and resolved to tread lightly and carefully - a subtle touch is sometimes the most powerful.

They took the Lightning Kid to a House of Butterflies and met with a healer.  The healer couldn’t help but be impressed with the prince’s attitude and energy, which surprised the King and Queen since they’d had the bad luck of picking a day where he hadn’t napped well and was bound to be tired.  The healer mentioned that her own children had hair like his and went about assessing him.  The Lightning Kid went on to demonstrate all of his collected skills, and the King and Queen were pleased to find out that the healer agreed to a schedule of a half-hour every two weeks.  They’d heard that more work was common in other lands, but they found this schedule was more in keeping with their beliefs to integrate new exercises into their existing lifestyle, rather than burden a baby with chores and drills.  They were given tips to get the Lightning Kid to use his legs more, including not only to propel himself forward, but also to bring himself into a supported stand.

A week later the prince would be assessed for signs that his speech was progressing well by a different healer. They noted how he was aware of his own name, and who his parents were, and how he expected action from those in the room. They catalogued his sound "Baba", "Eh!" "Bada" and of course blown raspberries. The healers suggested playing with sounds in front of a large mirror which they lent the King and Queen (it was made of a material that the two princes would be less likely to break...). The next morning the King tried it out and the Lightning Kid had fun doing his head swinging dance and generally having fun with his own reflection. Within days his sounds had expanded to "Uh!" and "Mada". The King and Queen knew it would be onward and upward with the new exercises for the next little while.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Lightning Kid and the Chariot Race

The King and Queen had long been enthusiasts for running and racing.  Of late, it had been harder to participate in these sorts of things, but their enthusiasm remained.   If they got to race at all, one would remain with the children, while the other would race.  Still they were overjoyed to be invited to a race being organized by a dear friend to raise money for a good cause.  The race would be small enough that both could participate, and the King and Queen did a practice run with Shark Boy riding a small steed, and the Lightning Kid in a special Chariot that the King or Queen could push.  Their practice run was short, and Shark Boy needed to join his brother in the Chariot for the return trip.  Furthermore, the Lightning Kid got a little sick of it and cried most of the way home.  Still the King and Queen considered that they had proven the concept, and looked forward to joining their friends' race, and helping their cause.

The Ride of the Lightning Kid
Come the day of the race, the King and Queen were lucky to have the Queen's mother there to help with minding Shark Boy... there was a good chance he would lose the plot and not be willing to keep doing laps of the race course, and that's exactly how things turned out, though he did a fair distance on his steed.  That left the royal parents to concentrate on the Lightning Kid himself, who seemed to be teething, and thus a little fussy.  The race was about to start, and it was around the time he usually would have a nap, so he was very prone to crying and fussing.  The King and Queen discovered that the Lightning Kid's soother was not handy; the King ended up having to run an extra half-mile or so to go fetch it in time for the race start!

He got back with the soother almost out of breath, and off they went.  Soon enough the Lightning Kid was asleep, and the King and Queen were able to progress through laps of the race course, slowly but surely, with occasional checks on how Shark Boy was making out.  They were three quarters done, when the Lightning Kid woke up again.  Still he didn't complain, and only made a few coos to show his pleasure at the changing scenery.  The King and Queen finished the race, not having completed the longest distance, and certainly not the fastest, but proud of themselves, and of their son who seemed to have the spirit of an athlete indeed.

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