Friday, April 19, 2013

The Perfect Heart

The Royal Family was a lot like other families... this is something they'd like you to know.  Most families with children like the Lightning Kid would like you to know how they are much like other families.  Still, there are things these families have to put up with, that they wouldn't wish on others.  A child like the Lightning Kid might have a flaw in the structure of his or her heart, one that would need fixing lest it become life-threatening.

When the King and Queen took the Lightning Kid to a heart healer, they received fairly good news in that there were no major flaws that would need immediate repair.  Still, there were some ambiguous signs that all was not right with his heart either, and that things would have to be monitored.  So every few months, the King and Queen would live in a limbo where things seemed fine, yet they might not be; not as bad as if there was a definite problem to correct, yet still, it weighed on them in worries that they could not allay.

It had been the same with the hearing, until that had been fixed.  After one more ambiguous test earlier in the year, even the healer himself had probably had enough mystery and asked for a little help.  The Lightning Kid was referred to a world famous house of healing where they would take a look at the structure of his heart, the third one so far.  He would need to be made to sleep, which as the King and Queen knew, he was always resistant to, and his struggles against it resulted in crying and screaming, which brought tears to their eyes.

They looked at the Prince’s heart, and even though there was a malfunction as the test began, the examination did not last very long... which would mean very good, or very bad news.  Since the Lightning Kid wasn't rushed off to emergency care right away, the King and Queen were able to take the little Prince home, with a good, although still ambiguous and unresolved, feeling.

It took another 3 weeks before the King and Queen were able to see the Lightning Kid's heart healer. It didn't take him long to tell them that everything looked fine with the Prince's heart! Once a year, they would take a listen to the heart's rhythm, but other than that, there would be nothing to worry about any more. The Prince's Heart was as perfect as the love it received and gave.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In Which The Queen Deals With Belligerent Ignorance

The Queen had taken the Lightning Kid out for a walk in a local park, there were other children there who engaged and played with him.   The Queen ended up talking to another lady with a young daughter - just a baby.

"How old is your son?” asked the lady.

"17 months" answered the Queen.


"17 months!"

"You mean like 1, 7?”

"Yep, 17 months"

"How can he be 17 months when my 10 month old daughter is as big as he is?"

"Well, thank goodness each kid is different!"

And that response, with its fundamental truth, and the grace with which it was delivered is what made the Lightning Kid’s mother a Queen.  The answer was also more charitable than some other responses one could have made in its place such as:

“How old are you? And how can your mind be so much smaller than mine?”

“Gosh, your kid is HUGE!”

“Well, I think your baby is fat.”

As the old adage says:”If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” or the King’s favourite variation on similar wisdom: ”Nothing is sometimes the right thing to do, and always a clever thing to say.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Castles of Winter, Castles of Spring

The Royal Family were taking their winter vacation; they would travel by sea, land and air to get there: a wonderful land where they spoke a different language.  The King and Queen had been there 2 years before and enjoyed it, as they had noticed that they seemed to be more indulgent of children - Shark Boy's behaviour in various eating establishments had required a lot of indulgence.

They would be staying in the same Castle they had stayed in on the previous visit.  The castle also did a lot to welcome young children, there was a place to swim and a miniature castle in the basement of the larger castle for them to play in.

What excited the King and Queen the most, however, was the fact that they would be able to ski.  In fact, they would be able to ski together, as they had before they had become parents, and opportunities to do things together were not that rare, but they were all too short most of the time.  The princes would be looked after by staff at the castle who they knew could do a wonderful job.  There was some worry that the Lightning Kid's condition might be a problem, but it never was.  In fact, they welcomed him with open arms, and better yet, he returned the favour! This was pleasant surprise as he was at a stage where he would sometimes scream at anyone who wasn't one of his parents.

While the King and Queen enjoyed skiing alone as a couple, they looked forward to the days when they could all ski as a family, so Shark Boy was enrolled in ski lessons.  A magic carpet took him part-way up the hill, and he skied down with an instructor.  He took to skiing like it was second nature, which was not that surprising since he'd had a few lessons with the Queen, who excelled at teaching children of all kinds how to ski.  At the end of the day, they would find the Lightning Kid still asleep in a nap, and managed to take Shark Boy out for a few runs on the BIG magic carpet, as per his request.

The new environment and new routine was a little much for the two princes' brains by the end of the day, and so dinners were not terribly enjoyable.  The King must have forgotten to pack his appetite (his stomach bothered him often on the trip), and by the time food arrived, the yelling, rebelling and thrown/spilled food resulted in the family beating a hasty retreat from evening mealtimes.  It's a wonder the poor Queen didn't starve...

Still, on their way home the King and Queen knew their faith in this Castle of Winter had been rewarded.

One of the things they enjoyed on that trip was Maple Syrup that had been cooled by snow, and rolled onto a stick.  The Royal Family had a weakness for Maple Syrup, and if it was ever absent from the royal pantry, it was a dark day in that castle.

So, weeks later, when Maple Syrup festival was running closer to home, they couldn't miss it.  In fact they had been there for the last two years running, once when the Queen was pregnant with the Lightning Kid, and again when he was less than 6 months old, and Shark Boy had impressed his parents by learning and repeating the process to make maple syrup.

The weather threatened rain early, keeping the crowds away, but once the family was there, they were able to enjoy sunshine.  They rode a wagon, and Shark Boy rode a pony on his own, and they walked through the woods where the sap for the syrup was gathered, with Shark Boy on his feet, running, gathering sticks and exploring the entire time while the Lightning Kid was in a stroller.  They enjoyed pancakes with syrup for lunch (after having french toast with syrup for breakfast - I told you they liked syrup!) and on the walk out, the Queen decided that the Lightning Kid should walk a little too.  Despite the fact that he hadn't walked outside before and the terrain was less than perfectly flat, the Lightning Kid walked with gusto for several hundred meters.  There was clear delight in his face, as if he was seeing the world from a new perspective.

The King had noticed this change and wanted to take part in this new part of the prince's journey, so the next chance he got (which happened to be the day after), he took the princes to a place where they could play on miniature castles.  Shark Boy quickly found other children to play with, and normally the King would have kept the Lightning Kid in a stroller or carried him around, but not that day.

He led him by the hand on wood-chips  boardwalks, ramps, bridges and tunnels and even helped him climb a ramp so steep it might as well have been a ladder.  The young prince grinned and giggled the entire time, and worked to stay on his feet.  He could see how walking and running was the path to great games, such as the ones Shark Boy played with the other children, and he put his all into walking (almost running!) and climbing to be able to enter that world.   Discussing it later, the King and Queen felt that another chapter in the Lightning Kid's saga was beginning...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Lightning Kid and the Musical Munchkins

The King and Queen were raising their sons to appreciate the outdoors, physical activity, movement and music.  For the latter, the Lightning Kid was involved with a group of Musical Munchkins while at the same time, Shark Boy was taking (what else?) swimming lessons.  The King and Queen tried to take turns taking each of the boys to their lessons, one week the King would take Shark Boy to swimming, while the Queen took the Lightning Kid to Musical Munchkins, and the next week they would switch.

The Lightning Kid had many friends and fans at Musical Munchkins, but the King and Queen were vexed at one development in the sessions that seemed to creep up.  Rather than sing and play with toy musical instruments, an increasing amount of time each session was being spent on arts and crafts... which didn’t seem inherently musical at all.  These crafts involved scissors, glue and small pieces perfect for putting in the mouth and/or gagging on.   

The first time the King encountered this activity, he had the Lightning Kid sit the activity out.  This was painful and upsetting to him, as he saw it as the first of many times that the young Prince might be excluded from an activity he wouldn’t be able to do, and have to watch from the sidelines.  BUT THE GROUP WAS FOR CHILDREN LESS THAN 2 YEARS OLD!  While the other munchkins seemed to put things in their mouths less than the Lightning Kid, and often seemed more developed overall, they and their parents still all struggled with making the craft activities anything less than an unmitigated disaster (one mother used the dreaded R word to describe the proceedings, earning a firm yet fairly polite rebuke from the King).

The next week, during the Queen’s turn at Musical Munchkins, a similar craft activity took place, and the Royal Family’s annoyance increased.  While they wanted a change, they found themselves too busy to lodge a formal complaint, all while considering leaving the program altogether.

When it was the King’s turn again, he had two options: skip the lesson and stay home with the Prince, or take him to Musical Munchkins in spite of their reservations.  The King figured they would take the good of the sessions while leaving the bad.  In fact, there were no crafts that day (perhaps someone else had found the time to register a complaint) and yet the King still found some frustration; he wanted the Lightning Kid to walk more (as the other children did) and when he tried to encourage it, he found the Prince’s bottom to be pulled to the floor as if by some magical force.  While he disliked being bull-headed about the Prince’s development, he knew he would soon be in environments with more children who could walk, and wanted to know he would be safe and capable of keeping up... more or less.  

While the King was not entirely satisfied by how much the Lightning Kid was walking during the Musical Munchkins session, he couldn't help but notice another stark difference between the Lightning Kid and the other children: he was by far the most engaged and engaging child there.  He went around to the other children’s parents and greeted them, he tried to get his hands on toys the second they were available, he scooted and searched around the room for ways to get into trouble.  When the King had a split-second that didn't involve keeping the Prince out of trouble, he observed the other children, they sat placidly in their parents’ laps, a docile look on their faces, some passive, some outright shy.  While that looked to be a lot easier to manage than what the King was used to in terms of taking care of children, he wouldn't have traded places with the other parents... the Prince was full of lightning, as usual, and that was the way his family liked it.