Friday, January 16, 2015


School was in full swing, and the King and Queen decided that the princes needed some extra-curricular activity not to make them more well rounded, but also to burn off energy that would otherwise have been directed at destroying the castle.  Both boys enjoyed a variety of physical activities, and the Queen suggested a dance class.  

Now, there are those who would suggest such nonsense as the idea that something like this could turn princes into princesses, but the King thought such ideas were ignorant and to be ignored.  Besides, the rambunctious boys could use a little softening of their edges, and he hoped the lessons would not only improve their balance and coordination, but their ability to follow instruction and behave in a structured format/environment.

Shark Boy took to his classes immediately.  He enjoyed them and did fairly well at learning the movements; some he would even show off to friends of the Royal Family at the drop of a hat.  When the King expressed concern that Shark Boy wasn't performing some movements properly, the instructor assured him that the other students had been working on it for weeks, so Shark Boy had plenty of opportunity to catch up.

The Lightning Kid, on the other hand, did not enjoy the dance lessons.  During the summer, the little prince would get extremely upset when his mother was absent. Generally speaking, he’d accept his father as a worthy substitute.  Still, when he didn't have a line of sight to his parents, screaming and crying were soon to follow.  They had seen this kind of ‘separation anxiety’ in Shark Boy when he was but a year old, but seeing it in the Lightning Kid at the age of three was vexing for the King and Queen.

The classroom where the dancing was taught did not afford a very good view from the window.  The idea being that the students should focus on the lesson, and not be distracted by looking for or at their parents. The Lightning Kid cried through an entire lesson, and the instructor taught the class one handed, with the little prince on her hip. The staff told the King and Queen that this sometimes occurred with their youngest students, and the teacher was used to dealing with it. So the Lightning Kid returned for a lesson the next week, and the week after, in the hopes that he'd get used to his parents' absence and start taking interest in the dancing.

Sadly, this did not occur. The teacher, to her credit, did not get exasperated by his screaming, but she did explain that by that point most children might cry at the beginning of the lesson, but settle down and start watching the lesson and show engagement and interest. No such luck with the Lightning Kid. The King and Queen were disappointed, not in the Dance School, but it felt like the little prince was setting himself up for exclusion with his own behaviour. They did some research and found that this kind of behaviour could be found in children of the same age as the Lightning Kid, even typical ones; but a closed door (or one that can't/won't be entered) is always a source of fear and stress for parents like the King and Queen.

They did, however, have a backup plan. In the past, both the Lightning Kid and Shark Boy had been in a sport program that taught the game of Ball of Foot. At that time, he had needed a parent to participate in the lesson and help direct him. The King and Queen were hoping that whatever program he was in, he would be less reliant on a parent, but at this stage they had to compromise. This program was excellent, since it not only involved physical exercise and co-ordination, but help teach colours, spatial orientation, taking turns, and good manners.

With some trepidation, the King took the Lightning Kid to his first lesson. He obviously remembered some of the structure and skills from the year prior, and he was willing to sit with the other children as long as his father stayed within 5 to 10 feet of him. As the lesson progressed, 10 feet became 15, and he interacted with the coaches more independently. The King was proud to see that the Lightning Kid was one of the faster runners, best kickers and generally behaved well, sitting against the 'Magic Wall' when it was time to listen to instructions.

The King did have a habit of intervening to make sure the Lightning Kid understood and followed instructions. This probably wasn't strictly necessary, but the King just wanted his son to get as much out of the lessons as possible.

From week to week, the Lightning Kid needed less guidance from his parents, and before you could say 'GOAL!' he was participating in a children's sport program independent of parents.

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