Sunday, September 21, 2014

Shark Boy Bedtime Stories - Sir Yaps-A-Lot

Inspired by a little boy who wouldn't let his father get a word in edge-wise.

Once upon a time, there were two knights: Sir Silent, and Sir Yaps-A-Lot.  They were summoned to the court of a King, who happened to have a lovely princess for a daughter.  The King told them of a nasty dragon who was terrorizing a village in the valley below the castle.  The knight who slew the dragon would be entitled to the dragon's treasure, a reward from the King, and best of all, he would be looked upon favourably by the princess.

Sir Yaps-A-Lot began to regale the King with tales of all the other times he had slain dragons, and the various battles he had fought in.  Sir Silent got on his horse and rode to the valley below.  When he got into the valley village, he could easily see smoke coming from a nearby forest.  He rode off toward it.

In the meantime, Sir Yaps-A-Lot had finally arrived in the village.  He asked every villager about how big the dragon was, what colour it was, what had it burned, and so on.  Sir Silent in the meantime, was getting a look for himself - he could see the dragon resting at the mouth of a cave.  He watched it from behind a tree and studied it well.  The dragon was covered in metallic scales - from the tip of his nose to the tip of its tail.  Sir Silent realized his sword could never penetrate the dragon's protective hide.

That was when Sir Yaps-A-Lot arrived.  Upon seeing the dragon, he loudly proclaimed how he could defeat any dragon, and went right back into the same set of stories he had told the King.  The dragon was amused by all this, and the loud knight had his undivided attention.

Sir Silent, however, had noticed a spot on the dragon where a scale was missing - the dragon had gotten an ouchie when it was very young, and the scales had never fully formed over the spot.  With Sir Yaps-A-Lot still yapping, Sir Silent went over to the dragon and poked it with his sword, right in its weak spot.  It fell over dead.

Sir Yaps-A-Lot began to complain about how unfair it was that Sir Silent had gone first, and began to yell and call Sir Silent names.  Sir Silent, on the other hand, gathered up the dragon's treasure and rode back to the King's castle.

Sir Silent was claiming the King's reward at the Castle, when Sir Yaps-A-Lot arrived.  He began to repeat his complaints about how unfair it all was to the King, while Sir Silent, in a rare bit of using his mouth, proposed marriage to the princess.  

Sir Silent and the Princess lived happily ever after.  And Sir Yaps-A-Lot is still Yapping.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Academy

Shark Boy had grown old enough to move on from the school that had not only cared for him since the age of one, but also welcomed the Lightning Kid, allowing and encouraging him to be his best, in lockstep with other, more typical children his age.  Shark Boy would need to be in a school that would begin teaching the more fundamental academics of reading, writing and such, and the King and Queen did not want them to have to be driven to locations far away from each other, and so an era was coming to an end.

In the year-and-a-half or so past, the King and Queen had tried to figure out the best choices for the education of both of their children.  They wanted Shark Boy to have as enhanced an education as possible, with an eye toward learning a foreign language.  There were schools that they could easily send Shark Boy to, yet they would not be able to accept the Lightning Kid if he was not in the same program, and he would be forced to go to the closest school.  The details are not important, what is important is that the King but especially the Queen knocked on many doors in the quest to find the right school for both children.  They ended up finding one that would welcome both boys with open arms.

Still, the King and Queen were nervous, since the Lightning Kid had not yet mastered... the elimination of bodily waste in the commonly accepted method.  Nor did they feel he would get through the day without a nap, so they opted to put him in a nearby care centre that was just down the road.  More on that in a moment...

The King and Queen worked all summer long to make Shark Boy both aware and comfortable with the change he would soon be encountering.  He would wear a uniform, stop taking naps and have more expected of him during the course of the day.  What was the most exciting though were the opportunities to learn, especially the chances to have some of his seemingly limitless questions answered.

He took to his new classes with gusto, and soon the usual dance of “Am I going to school today?” “Yes!” was capped off with a “Yay!” rather than the old “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!”  His teacher was very kind and noticed how inquisitive he was.  He made friends within the class quickly and distinguished himself with his ability to learn (and sing) new songs.

When the Lightning Kid saw Shark Boy’s  new school on the first day, he didn’t want to leave.  Some anxiety at being separated from his parents was expected, but not how badly he’d miss his brother.  The drop-off at the place down the road was shaky the first day, there was no denying it, but they took such wonderful care of the Lightning Kid that by the second day he was acting like it had been his home away from home for most of his young life.

Shark Boy was always tired at the end of the school day, but what he wanted to do most when he got home, was play with his little brother.... and the feeling was mutual.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Interlude - Shark Boy's Bedtime Stories: The Witch and the Vampire

Putting small children to bed is a challenge in any family, whether you are dealing with princes like Shark Boy and the Lightning Kid or not.  While putting the Lightning Kid down to sleep had its own challenges, getting Shark Boy to settle down was a task that took its own magic.

Stories were read, and while the routine after lights out used to be lullabies, somehow the notion of being told stories had taken over, and the prince demanded new stories almost every night.  While the King was sometimes able to recall stories he had heard, seen or read before, and sometimes re-used elements from other stories with slight changes to make them new enough to Shark Boy, he occasionally was able to create new stories from scratch.  These could vary wildly in terms of the quality the King would be satisfied with, but some he considered at least passable.  It occurred to the King that he should record them, so that they wouldn't be lost in the fog of one man’s fading memory.

These stories will be recorded here.  If anyone else was to use them to entertain their own children, it would do nothing but delight the King.  This story is about a Witch and a Vampire (as requested by Shark Boy):

Once upon a time, there was a Witch named Alice, and a Vampire named Bob.  Alice said to Bob: ”It must be nice to be a vampire, you can turn into a bat anytime you want!”

Bob replied: “Sure, but you can fly around on a broom... I wish I could do that!”

“You can disappear in a puff of smoke! I wish I could do that!”

“You can brew potions and cast spells! I wish I could do that!”

“You have a great cape!”

“I wish I had a hat like yours...”

Suddenly, Bob got an idea.  “You know... I can turn you into a vampire.  All it takes is a good bite in the neck...”

“And I know a potion that could turn you into a witch!” replied Alice.  “Why don’t I brew it up now... and when it’s finished, you give me the bite, then drink it?”

They agreed this would be the plan, and Alice set to work on her potion.  When it was finished, Bob bit her on the neck and took a big gulp of the potion.  They began to transform.  Within a few minutes, there stood Bob the Witch and Alice the Vampire.

Alice practised turning into a bat and back again a dozen times. “What fun!” she exclaimed.
Meanwhile Bob flew loops on his new broom.  They passed several hours enjoying their new forms and the magical powers that came with them, but soon they found themselves hungry.

“Is there anything to eat around here?” asked Alice.  “Well... now that you’re a vampire, you’re going to have to find some blood to suck.”  replied Bob meekly.  “YUCK!” shouted Alice.  Bob explained: “It’s not always easy to find... you should start looking now so you can make it by sunrise.  I guess I don’t have to do that anymore.... What do witches eat?”

“Frog and lizard stew! It’s delicious!!” exclaimed Alice.  “YUCK!” shouted Bob.  “That’s disgusting.”  They were both quiet for a few minutes.

“Alice... do you think you could maybe... bite me in the neck?  I could show you how to do it... I think I liked being a vampire, more than I realized.”

“I think I’d rather be a witch too... it looks like there’s still some of the witch-transformation potion left in my cauldron.”

So Alice bit Bob, then drank the potion and they transformed back into their old selves.  The Witch and the Vampire lived happily ever after as best friends.

POSTSCRIPT: Shark Boy wanted the story to be scarier.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Conqueror on a Crocodile

From early in the year, Shark Boy had been swimming.  Visits to various lakes and pools had only strengthened his ability, and made him more Shark-like.  The arrival of summer meant regular visits to the Castle of Summer.  Seeing Shark Boy enjoy the water fully immersed brought joy to the King’s heart since the image was what he had always pictured for his family to enjoy being lakeside.  

The Lightning Kid enjoyed the water too, though maybe not quite as much as his older brother; he didn’t seem very willing to be carried into the deeper, colder water, but he was game for wading under his own terms.  Unfortunately, those terms sometimes meant tripping or being knocked over by a wave, which was a problem.

You might recall that the Lightning Kid had Tiny Titans placed in his ears, and their presence meant water had to be kept out (lest they drown!).  Lake water was especially suspect, since it could more easily lead to problems in the ear.  What the King and Queen didn’t know, is that the Titan of the right ear had long since departed, and the ear had become infected.  The Lightning Kid’s behaviour deteriorated in the middle of the summer, but without a fever to indicate anything, the ear infection went undetected for too long.

When a fever did appear, they took him to a healer who found that the eardrum had been perforated.  With medicine, the infection was cured, and the eardrum healed fairly quickly, but they were more determined than ever to keep water out of the ears.

There were ear plugs that could be used, but they would either fall out on their own, or be removed by the Lightning Kid.  A better suggestion proved to be a magic hat that looked like a piranha.  The Lightning Kid was not happy about wearing it at first (especially because it squashed his face)...

... but soon enough he associated it with water fun, and the King learned to put it on so that his face was less squashed, and it could be used to hold the earplugs in place (by covering his ears).

Still, the King sought to bring the Lightning Kid along on the aquatic adventures he could share with Shark Boy.  If he were to carry him into deeper water, the King did not feel fully confident of his ability to keep the prince's ears out of the water while swimming, even if he could carry him well enough to keep him generally safe.  They set out to tame and conquer a crocodile that the little prince could ride and keep his head well above water.

Once mounted, the Lightning Kid did a wonderful job of staying seated, holding on, and keeping his balance.  So much so, that the Lightning Kid, Shark Boy and the King were able to conquer a floating island.