Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Buddy Walk

In kingdoms further away, there had always been special days where people with the same condition as the Lightning Kid had banded together to show their presence to the world by walking with their friends and family - they would walk through a prominent area with their 'Buddies'. They could show that they weren't simply something to be pushed to the fringes of society, they were fully part of it.

In the first year of the Lightning Kid's life, there wasn't a Buddy Walk anywhere near the King and Queen's Castle, which was saddening. This year, just after the Lightning Kid's 18 month birthday, there would be one, and it was attended by well over 400 people. His team of Buddies included many of the King and Queen's friends, including the Fairy Godmother and her own two princesses.

It was a cold day, and while waiting for the teams to gather before the walk, it was hard to stay warm. Shark Boy was being oddly lazy, and stayed in the royal stroller for most of the walk, though afterwards he could be seen running all over the place in his usual way.

There were all kinds of families there, each proud to be buddies to their special children (both young and young at heart).  There was even a Kissing Bandit, and though the King found the title threatening to his own title as a Kissing Man, he let discretion be the better part of valour and opted not to challenge the bandit...

The Lightning Kid's Team of Buddies completed the walk, and enjoyed catching up with each other over some snacks.  They were able to collect some olunder for their efforts.  The Royal Family knew they'd be back annually to Walk for the Lightning Kid, and for other children like him.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Lightning Kid Goes to "School"

A day of some excitement approached.  You see, Shark Boy had been in a daycare from the age of one year onward.  Getting him to that point had not always been a smooth one.  The King and Queen (mostly the Queen), had done a great deal of research trying to find the right fit for someone who could give Shark Boy what he needed in terms of daily care: time outside, physical activity, mental stimulation, a safe environment, and all without using a common child-care tool that was known (by some, especially The King’s late Father) as The Idiot Box.  The Idiot Box was known to impede the development of speech in infants, and since Shark Boy was hearing two languages in a constant mixed up stew of words at home, the King and Queen wanted to avoid giving him extra disadvantages.

They had found what appeared to be an ideal place with a qualified caregiver, large backyard and no Idiot Box.  What they hadn’t counted on was that Shark Boy’s Iron Will would be more than a match for the caregiver’s lack of experience.  When she was unable to distract him from the terrible grief of being separated from his parents (which typically peaks at the age of 12 months - Shark Boy’s exact age at the time) by dangling a set of keys in front of him, she found she was unable to do the job, and suggested the King and Queen find different arrangements.
Their second attempt at getting Shark Boy into daycare went much smoother, and he had thrived there and been attending it ever since.  They called it ‘school’, since there was not only a good educational curriculum, but it gave a way to justify it to Shark Boy (“why can’t I stay home and play all day?”).

Now it was the Lightning Kid’s turn.  The fear of how separation anxiety can affect a strong-willed child was probably in the back of the King and Queen’s minds as they made the decision not to put the Lightning Kid into daycare until he was 18 months old.  The good news was that separation anxiety was less at that age, and he had really solidified his walking such that he would be able to fit in well with the other children.

In fact, though the idea of the Lightning Kid attending daycare while being assisted by a special extra teacher had been discussed since the early days, at that point, it seemed to be unnecessary and they decide to forgo it; he didn’t really have any special needs compared to other children at that point.  Still the King and Queen decided to borrow the idea from another Kingdom to send a letter to his teachers.

The first week he attended the daycare for 2 hours on the first day and 4 the next working up to a nearly full day - including a successful nap time, which left the King and Queen stunned, since the Lightning Kid was a notoriously bad napper.

The next week went just as well; in fact, a teacher approached the Queen and mentioned how alike the Lightning Kid was to all the other children she cared for.  The King and Queen were immensely proud - yet still found things to worry about.  They hadn’t gotten the Lightning Kid to feed himself with a bowl or dish in front of him - at least not without throwing them to the ground... how would that play in a group environment?  They also noticed that he had to use a special chair that he wouldn’t fall out of - the problem being that he tended to turn and climb when he should be sitting.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t sit properly, it was more that he wouldn’t, and it was simplest to use a chair with a safety belt.  It was seeing him being singled out, that brought back old fears to the King and Queen. 

They had to remind themselves that this could be as much a result of being the newest and youngest to a new routine - he would probably not need the different chair long - even as they were being reminded that their Quest to integrate would be a constant struggle.

Please consider sponsoring the Lightning Kid's Team for the DSAT Buddy Walk.  Or, join us there!