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...