Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Summer Of Lightning

The Royal Family took advantage of the warmer weather to visit a Castle By the Lake on many weekends throughout the summer. The proximity to the water was especially delightful, since the boys could have fun in the shallow water (heavily supervised), and it kept them cool enough to withstand the heat.

Besides the risk of the water, they had to protect the boys from the sun's rays, and some biting insects too. The King had a long-standing hatred for biting insects, but he didn't realize how intense that hatred could get until he saw a little bit of his sons' blood trickling down from their latest bite.

While Shark Boy was getting closer and closer to being able to swim independently, the Lightning Kid was causing trouble eating sand. His sand-eating habit seemed to get better, and he could be counted on to play on the beach without sticking a shovel into his mouth, until he did again and the whole thing started up again.

The Lightning Kid's chief healer had asked the King and Queen to work on giving the Lightning Kid obstacle courses to work on movement skills beyond simple walking. They had never put an ounce of effort into that task, because the young prince had been seeking out his own obstacle courses; he'd crawl under chairs, but over the cross-beams that spanned between the chair legs for example.

At the Lake-Castle, he would climb onto rocks as big as he was, and he loved trying to negotiate the stone stairway down to the water. On the dock he was only allowed while holding hands with a grown-up.

With all these leaps of development and adventures, there was bound to be a price to pay. Predictably, any good sleep habits were destroyed, and the King and Queen found themselves sleep-deprived and exhausted again. Worse still, the lands around the Kingdom experienced unprecedented storms.

While driving home from the Lake-Castle in their Carriage one weekend, the Lightning Kid seemed very out-of-sorts - they had hoped for him to fall asleep during the drive. Instead his screams and cries made conducting the carriage extraordinarily difficult. He seemed inconsolable; they even made a detour with the notion of bringing him to a healing house on the way back. They reconsidered when they saw the waiting room from the outside full of sick people - they probably wouldn't get any real help there and he didn't seem to have a fever. Taking side-roads the rest of the way home calmed him down to the point where he fell asleep... and that's when the Lightning started. The King's night vision kept getting ruined by the constant flashes, and the heavy rains made the road hard to make out. After many hours, of slow careful driving, they came out from under the extreme weather and made it home safely, but the King could not recall a more harrowing experience.

Weeks later, they welcomed the King's brother and his family to their lands, but their first night was marked by yet another storm that turned roads to rivers and castle courtyards to lakes. All throughout the city, people had been stranded by the floods caused by the storm, and while the King did not have to actually swim when he got caught outdoors, you couldn't tell that from his clothes.

A week later, there was yet another heavy storm that took down trees and did more damage. To the King and Queen, their baby turning into a little boy was worth a bit of thunder and lightning - they could only hope for forbearance from everyone else...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Lightning Kid in a Strange Land

The summer approached, signalling the time for the Royal Family to travel.  Their first destination would be a land across an ocean.  That meant boarding an airship, and staying aboard for 8 hours or so.  Many feared these airships, and with small children, even more-so.  The King and Queen had the courage of legendary heroes, or so they appeared on the outside.  The King was secretly shaking with fear, on the inside, at least.

The Lightning Kid was simply too active and dynamic to be kept in small quarters for long periods of time, and he had taken up a nasty habit of ear-splitting screams that could occur at any time whether he was pleased or displeased... the reactions of other passengers would surely be something to be feared.  Interestingly, the overseas flight was survived, through hard work of the King and Queen, and the fortune of an empty seat.

Shark Boy and the Wire Donkey

Once they had landed in this wonderful country, the Royal Family enjoyed many adventures.  Shark Boy swam and learned to ride a Wire Donkey by himself.  The Lightning Kid also rode on the back of a Wire Donkey with his father, and the King and Queen were very proud of both boys.  They cruised on the river aboard a giant whale, they rode a giant metal serpent across the country.
The Lightning Kid and the Wire Donkey

Best of all, they got to play with their cousins, the niece and nephew of the King and Queen (on his side) and spend time with their Grandfather and his wife.  While visiting the year before, the Queen had wondered if the Lightning Kid would be able to walk by their next visit; the King and Queen had so wished that the baby he was would turn into a toddler who could play alongside this cousins... just like any other kid.  They needn't have worried, because that was exactly what happened.   A not-so-close second highlight would have been the ale, and desserts that were consumed.
The Whale

Still the journey proved a tribulation.  While Shark Boy seemed to be able to adapt to changes in surroundings, the Lightning Kid seemed to be troubled by those same changes.  While awake, the screaming habit got worse.  Sleep was fought against at every opportunity - it was hard to put him down, he woke often, and every wake-up was treated as if a new day were to begin, even if it was the middle of the night.  He also seemed to pick up random fevers and coughs (the latter was probably made worse by the screaming).  And to be fair, the sun rose and set at a different time in this new land, the rooms and surroundings were different, schedules and rituals from home were not being observed.  Children need structure, and it was widely held that children like the Lightning Kid needed it even more.  Still the King and Queen had long resolved that the benefits of flexibility and adaptability needed to be imparted on the Princes too, and their lifestyle should reflect those kinds of values.  This new country was also important to their heritage and culture.
The King and the Lightning Kid on a small metal serpent

By the time the Royal Family made the return trip, they were questioning if and how they could repeat the adventure until the young Prince was much older.  And they had other fears: could they count on a year or two making as big a difference for the Lightning Kid as it had for Shark Boy?  As it often did, the darkness of fear had shadowed the light of reason and logic.  They were forced to remember... Shark Boy had always been a similar problem - in fact, this year was the first time where travelling with him hadn't driven them both to near madness.  And while it was their heart's desire to provide their children with adventure, it was all too easy to give them simply too much in any given day; when their cups ran over, the spills meant they would be too excited to sleep.

The Royal Family on a Big Metal Serpent

The trip was a vacation in name, though it was not restful in truth.  Still, the Royal Family would have to take the good home by focusing on what was gained in terms of great memories and love shared, while leaving the bad as nothing more than one of many lessons in patience and endurance they would have to learn in the greater voyage that was to be their lives together.  Although the King noted to himself that taking home some of the faraway land's great coffee would have been a very clever idea indeed.

A rare moment... Sleep! Aboard the Airship no less