Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Resolving... the Problem of Not Enough Lightning Kid Stories This Year

Not every link in this story refers to posts from this year, please check the date of the post for context.  By reading older posts, newer readers can get acquainted with some of the tales this family has already spun.

And so it came to pass that the readers were betrayed, and had to go for a long period without hearing new stories about the Lightning Kid, or Shark Boy, the Queen, King or even the Stench Beast.  They were treated to occasional images to see that he was doing well, but the details of his adventures were not to be found in this space.

Let us try to rectify this betrayal, and catch up on the year gone by.

At the beginning of the year, Winter was in full effect in the Kingdom.  The Royal Family's usual strategy was to wear special boots that which could attach to boards that allowed them to slide on snow.  Here are some of their adventures on such contraptions.

When Spring arrived, the snow melted, and it was time to run as a family.  At races long and short,

A photo posted by Axel Kussmann (@apkussma) on

They met heroes, and conquered temperatures both cold,

and warm.

A photo posted by Axel Kussmann (@apkussma) on

A video posted by Axel Kussmann (@apkussma) on
They participated in another Buddy Walk, which was an even bigger success than the year before, and also resulted in the Lightning Kid gaining (temporarily) a green moustache.

It was in June, that the King and Shark Boy got a chance to try the magic of flight.  The elder prince also grew out of the Garden for Children and performed at a dance recital (oddly enough, with its own garden theme).

Soon after, they once again travelled to the strange land across the ocean.  This year, their adventures included cruising the river in a ship, climbing in a jungle, and visiting the land of wild beasts as well as working on his riding skills for metal horses.

Upon their return to their homeland, the Royal Family started Shark Boy in the a Ball of Foot league, only to find the coach of Shark Boy's team would abandon them in the time of need. With no-one else stepping in to fill the void, the King lent his meagre talents to the cause. While he did nothing to bring the team any victories, he did his best to make sure Shark Boy and his teammates left the field healthy and smiling at the end of each week's game.

You might remember August, where the Princes' skills were inventoried for the school year to come.

September was an auspicious month, as the Lightning Kid joined the academy, and got to wear a tie like his big brother.  He did very well in the new environment, and though the King and Queen occasionally worried that his delays in speech might hinder his ability to participate in classroom discussions.

There was another occasion to wear ties... the wedding of an aunt and uncle much beloved to the boys.  This aunt and uncle had been occasional guardians when the King and Queen went out for an evening, and during a visit to their more rustic residence, had conducted a treasure hunt for the Princes that was very memorable.  The Princes were to return the favours by acting as ring bearers during the wedding ceremony.  There had been much rehearsing, but it was agreed by all who attended that they did a perfect job.

One adventure in September that bears mentioning is that the King became a Man of Half-Iron.  He had trained for this race all year, and though the day was glorious thanks to good weather and a successful completion,  it was somewhat of a hollow victory because the Lightning Kid had to be taken to emergency healing by the Queen; the King questioned whether taking off on these flights of fancy was what a responsible ruler should really be doing.  The one saving grace of this hobby was the opportunity to help children like the Lightning Kid who had the misfortune of being orphans.

October saw the Royal Family marking the Princes' birthdays, in the same place they had it the year before.  The Princes also had their most exciting Hallowed Eve yet, and fetched candy and sweets with gusto.  Even the King and Queen put on costumes this year.

The Lightning Kid and Shark Boy had to put on performances in alternate languages before the end of the school year and made everyone proud.  The Lightning Kid also got his heart looked at, and showed the patience and calm of someone who's been through more than his fair share of examinations by healers of every sort.

As Yule time approached, the Princes performed in another concert.  One particular highlight was the Lightning Kid managing to keep up his song and dance number, with a top hat falling down around his eyes.

The Yule celebration season brought many opportunities to see the Yulefather, most exciting of these were on a iron wagonway.

The Royal Family, like many other families, closed out the year surrounded by family and friends, good food and good cheer... and they hope you have too.

If you would like to see any of the stories expanded upon, feel free to leave a specific request in the comment section below.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Skills of a Prince

Any respectable prince will have to live up to certain expectations as he grows.  The Lightning Kid and his older brother Shark Boy were no exception to this rule.  As one travels across kingdoms, any given prince one might encounter should be in turns a Warrior, a Scholar and a Gentleman.

The Warrior

It should come as no surprise that many of the warrior’s skills came quickly and easily to the two princes.  While formal instruction had failed to make a swimmer of Shark Boy, diligent practice with his grandfather had developed his natural abilities to the point where he was keeping himself afloat and traversing pools.  When bodies of water got larger and deeper, he would call for assistance and lose some confidence, but no-one could fault him for being cautions.

Shark Boy was also an accomplished rider of the steel horse, and had been since he was 3.  At his school, his favourite recreational pastime was to engage in running races with his best friend across the yard.  If you put those three skills together you get the King’s favourite sport, and earlier that summer, Shark Boy had won first place in a competition.

The Lightning Kid for his part, was getting to be a better runner, and could be seen at some races in the spring and early summer too.  The tricky part would be teaching him to swim and ride...

Between programs that had failed to get Shark Boy swimming and scheduling conflicts, the summer went by without the Queen being able to find good formal instruction for the Lightning Kid; his special needs were a tertiary concern at best.  Still, they observed that we was starting to piece together some of the motions, and when he was wading in water that was just the right depth, he could actually swim and float, yet still put his feet down to stand if he felt the need.  Learning to keep his mouth closed in the water was the first, and arguably most important step.  This wouldn’t be the year for him to race in all three sports, but the King and Queen felt confident that they could have him swimming independently in his fourth year.

Throughout the summer, both boys worked on these skills; riding was especially addressed through formal instruction with Shark Boy in a group camp and the Lightning Kid in private lessons.  Shark Boy attended other camps to work on engineering skills, leaping, climbing, throwing and catching.  Both boys learned to kick a ball, with the Lightning Kid continuing in his original program, and Shark Boy joining a team that was mostly coached by the King himself; they didn’t win many games, but the King accomplished his goal of sending the players home with smiling faces and tired legs.

The Scholar

Thanks to the healers  in the kingdom, the King and Queen knew what the Lightning Kid would be expected to be able to do in the coming school year.  While the uncertainty filled them with apprehension, the worked on teaching him how to use scissors, using scissors that were designed for children who might have difficulty with regular scissors; these scissors helped the child keep the handles together, or could help them spring apart for the next cut.

The Lightning Kid practiced counting, identifying letters, sight reading names of loved ones on cards, and writing out the letters of his name on a small chalk board.  The frame of the board helped him keep the lines bounded, and made them a little straighter.  Healers often insisted that the strokes be more downward than upward, since this helps them get written language oriented in space (we do, after all, read from top to bottom, as you are doing now).

Some skills that the parents of typical children might take for granted, but that the Queen and King were reminded of were putting on shoes for outdoor play, and opening containers that held the midday meal.  For the former, the Lightning Kid developed a routine (thanks to guidance from his parents) of loosening the straps of his sandals, slipping in the feet (usually on the wrong shoes, but what can you do?), then fastening the straps.  It was a certainty that other shoes in colder months might pose a problem.

Several types of containers had frustrated the little prince and his mother, but as a final resort, the King took the prince to one of the largest merchants in the world, sat with him in the aisles, and tried different types of containers out, and didn’t leave until they found some the Lightning Kid could open without assistance.

The Gentleman

The Queen had found a very competent healer to help the Lightning Kid with his speech, and together they had helped him make huge leaps in his vocabulary and pronunciation.  He had started saying Shark Boy’s name almost perfectly and was a lot easier to understand.  Still, they wanted to advance his speech beyond using single words (or two word combinations) to more sophisticated sentences.  “Papa up!” could mean “pick me up” or “help me climb up” or “go up Papa!” and that was the kind of elaboration the Royal family worked on encouraging at all turns.

Of course, keeping the “please” and “thank-you” in his requests was mandatory.  While travelling, the King and Queen would stop for meals en route, and appropriate behaviour in eating establishments was one of the biggest challenges for both princes.  Appropriate volume level, staying seated, using utensils, appropriate conversational topics and generally getting food safely from plates or bowls to the mouth seemed to be a bigger challenge to the princes than feats of physical prowess or tests of wits...

#SharkBoy on the other hand, took to #SUP like a natural. #fitfam #fitkids #fitfluential #LightningKid

via Instagram

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Lightning Kid and the King as Troubadours

While travelling to the Academy, it was common for the King and the two Princes to listen to the music of the troubadours of the day.  When he’d been younger, one of Shark Boy’s favourite songs had the words “You’re my Sweetheart.” and he’d referred to the song as “Matthew Ha-ha” ever since.

Lately though, the King noticed that the Lightning Kid was trying to pick up some of the background vocals; a repeated “Ho!” and “Hey!”.  He had a little trouble with the sequence - mixing up when to say “HO” and when to say “HEY”.  The King decided to work on this to improve the young Prince’s memory, and also to help him with making clear speech sounds by reading lips.  The King would round his lips to encourage a “HO” and draw them narrower to encourage a “HEY”.  Though the King had been cursed with borderline tone deafness his entire life, this was the result.