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I am the crazy mom of five boys.  Four of my five boys are on the autism spectrum. Neuro-Diversity rocks!!!  I cook, I clean, I blog, I breathe.  Yup that is about it.  If you want to catch a glimpse of our crazy world you are more than welcome but don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The King and His Beasts

Once upon a time there was a large, crazy family that lived in the Kingdom of Skiff.  The kingdom this family ruled was known far and wide as a land of crazy adventures, where beasts such as autism, auto-immune disease, depression and learning disabilities were somewhat tamed and made a part of the outlandish adventures for which the Kingdom was known.
The Queen, of whom you already know, was married to a King, a handsome and successful man, who had long ago leashed his own dragons of Insecurity and Self-doubt, training and eventually transforming them into beautiful, colorful, winged creatures, whom he named Ambition and Success.  Together the flew through the skies of Skiffdom, quickly conquering their latest conquest and just as quickly moving on to the next.  Ambition and Success had been bred in a cave, high upon Mount Loneliness.  Their parents were the unknown and awkward dragons: Asperger and Ignorance.  They stayed, locked away in in their cave until one day the wise Wizard traded them gold for their weak knee'd, gray and scaly twin offspring.  He promised the old dragons that their children would be his gift to a prince and that in time they would grow strong, beautiful and unique and they would  soar the skies and accomplish great feats of daring  with the prince who would one day be king.  The tired, old complacent dragons could not imagine such glory but gold is the weakness of all dragons so they happily traded their ugly offspring for the pouch of gold coins the wizard handed them.
The Wizard presented prince's parents with the ugly beasts on the day of his birth.  He smiled as he proclaimed "These beasts, ugly and small now, will one day soar the skies bringing the Prince unimaginable success and triumph. But they are young, uncared for and untrained.  They must be nurtured along with the prince for them to achieve their full potential."  The king and Queen looked at the ugly, smelly and weak beasts in horror.  Having no idea what to do with the pair, they ordered them locked away in a dank and dark turret of the castle.  They then banished the wizard from the kingdom and then forgot about the beasts. 
The beasts however, did not cease to be simply because they were forgotten. Instead they grew in the darkness, the lack of sunlight dulling their already grey scales.  The abandonment contorting their already ugly features.  They grew large and unruly, beasts that inspired terror at just a glance.
Unbeknownst to the old King and Queen, the wizard had bound these beasts to the boy prince with a spell. And though his parents had long ago forgotten their existence, he felt their constant pull and heartache.  He would sneak to the turret in the dead of night and talk to the awful beasts.  "Why were you given to me?" he would cry beating his fists against the stone walls until his hands were bloody and he was exhausted.  He would slide down the wall, curl in to a ball and finally drift off to sleep surrounded by the beasts' stench and rage.  The next morning he would sneak back to his room, bathe and go to school. There the other children either ignored the young prince or teased him mercilessly; for no matter how hard he tried he could never rid himself of the stench of the beasts,  It was bound to him just as surely as the beasts themselves were. Over the years, the prince grew into a young man, smart and handsome, yet unaware of his true gifts.  The beasts had long ago stopped growing but they were still the huge, gnarled, ugly beasts of his youth; the most unwelcome and hated gift the prince had ever received,

The time came, as it will for all young men, that the Prince leave his castle and go to make a life for himself, apart from his family.  So he packed his belongings and made the trip to Mount Elim, the last of his training before his life as King began.  As he walked toward the mountain, he would occasionally glance over his shoulder, and following him, like the grim reaper were the beasts of his youth,  He yelled at them "Go away!!! I don't want you! You have brought me nothing but loneliness, sadness and grief."  Then he would continue on his journey.  After a few miles more, he would once again look over his shoulder, to find the beasts still following him.  He looked for the largest stones he could find and would throw them with all his might, and yet the two beasts followed on, steadily, relentlessly and completely unfazed by the Prince's outbursts.

Upon arriving at the ivory towers of higher education, the Prince met many exciting and beautiful people.  Here he was able to mask the stench of his beasts because so many others had brought beasts of their own. So for the first time in his life, he was accepted by his peers.  During the days he learned the ways of the King under men and women of status and renown.  At night he laughed, sang and jousted with his fellow classmates.  And throughout it all, he tried to forget the beasts that waited just outside the walls that circled the Ivory Towers.  At night, while he wrestled with sleep, their despair called to him.  He would cover his head and ears and rock himself back and forth, trying to drown out their haunting cries.
During this time, he met a girl, not a princess, but instead the daughter of a distinguished but poor knight and scholar.  She was a pretty girl, outspoken and headstrong. He could not understand anything of her ways, which were peculiar at best and bordering on insane at worst.  She was from a far away land, where the weather was warmer and the people spoke with strange, drawn out accent.  The shoes she wore had pointed toes and high heels in the back and were entirely unsuited for the cold and frozen climate of Mount Elim.  So the girl, slid around the Ivory Towers, speaking her mind to anyone who was near, and singing as she washed dishes in the kitchen to pay for her stay in the Towers. The Prince was confounded by the girl and vowed to stay as far away from her as possible.  Yet he found himself continually drawn to her.  She was happy, even while being direct and outspoken. she spoke with conviction and compassion, And he found himself more and more seeking out her company and counsel despite his promise to avoid her.
Then one day, after months of being ignored and neglected, the beasts broke through the walls surrounding the Ivory Towers in search of the Prince.  They were as bound to him as he was to them.  They found the prince sitting with the odd girl and pounced upon him with a fervor and fury they bespoke of the neglect and abuse they had endured.  The Prince cried as they ripped at his clothes in their attempt to be close to him once more.  He shrank back into a corner, not wanting the girl to witness his ultimate shame and humiliation.  
Then the attack stopped as suddenly as it started.  Warily the Prince glanced up to see what had drawn the vicious beasts away.  Then he saw her, the odd girl, crying as she gently rubbed the heads of the beasts.  "Oh you poor things! Look at you, so neglected and abused.  Your beautiful colors have been dulled and your wings are torn but you are beautiful, unique beasts.  How could anyone treat you so?"
The prince watched in amazement as the ugly, gnarled beasts, rubbed their heads under the girls hand and began to purr.  And as he watched one of the ugly, dry, gray scales fell away, revealing a breathtaking, shimmering, colorful scale beneath.  The beauty  made him catch his breath, for he had only ever known these beast to haunt him and bring him pain.  That they could be beautiful, was beyond anything in his experience,
The prince was still  ashamed of what the girl had witnessed and had no clue how to respond to such compassion towards his deepest and darkest shame. "These monsters are my burden and shame, gifted to me at birth by a demented and cruel wizard.  Go away and speak of this no one." He shouted at the girl.  The girl sadly smiled at him through her tears "Dear Prince, you have it so wrong. These are unique creatures of beauty and speed.  They only need to be loved and groomed to show their full potential."
"You crazy girl, you know nothing of this matter." He shouted as she walked off into the night. But, even as he raged, he could not deny the beautiful scale that had appeared above the snout of each beast, as the girl had rubbed it's head.  And in that moment, a seed of hope was planted, maybe the wizard had not cursed him.  Maybe there was beauty in the beasts that stood before him.

Time marched on, as is it's way, and the Prince grew into a King.  He married the unusual girl and made  her his Queen.  Though they never again spoke of the beasts that now resided in a stable outside their small castle.  Months turned into years, their lives continued on as several children were born.  The odd, outspoken girl had become quiet and aloof because though the beasts were never spoken of, their stench was a constant reminder to her of the promise and potential that was rotting away in their stables.  And her heart broke a little more each day.

Then one day there was a knock at the door.  The queen answered it, holding in her arms another of their princes, born just a few days before.  In the doorway, stood the same wizard that had gifted the beasts to her King and in his arms were two more ugly, smelly and untrained beasts.  He smiled gently at her and said "These, my queen, are my gifts to your newest Prince.  They may be ugly and smell but if you show them love, patience and compassion, they will grow into beasts of beauty and wonder."  The queen was unsure how to respond.  For though she knew the beasts contained beauty she also knew of the kings hatred for them.
"Wise Wizard, I cannot accept your gift. I know the potential and beauty that lives inside these beasts but the King has only ever known shame and pain because of them.  He will never allow more of their kind in our kingdom." the queen responded.
"This gift is not for you, my queen.  It is for the son that you hold, in your arms, now.  You can neither accept or reject his gift, for it is his and is bound to him as surely as the beasts in the stable are bound to your husband.  You can only choose to train and nurture these beasts or ignore and abandon them.  If you choose to nurture and train them, the road will be long and hard.  At times, you will feel as if you have given all you have and yet they will require more.  Or you can chose to ignore and abandon this gift, as your husband and his parents have done.  One choice will transform these beasts into unique and beautiful creatures, the other will cause them grow gnarled and more ugly. Either way, this gift will stay with your son for the rest of his life.  There is nothing you can do to change that.  So chose wisely queen."  With that the the wizard left and the small ugly beasts followed the queen and her son through the castle, while she cried and pondered how to best train the beasts that were now her son's gift.  
The King returned that night to find his wife sitting by the fire, rocking their newborn son and petting two, small, ugly beasts just like his own, out in the stables.  He roared in anger and grief at the unfairness that his son had been cursed as he was.  His wife simply smiled and continued to stroke the beasts' heads.  "Our son will not know this curse, he will only know the gift."  she stated simply.
"Do as you will." Then the king left the room, tears flowing down his face.  That night, slept in the stables, next to his beasts as he used to do as a child.  He raged at them and yet could not deny that though dulled with time and neglect, the one beautiful scale still sparkled above each of their snouts.

The King watched the Queen as she daily studied and trained his son's dragons.  Slowly, over time, he noticed that they began to stink less and they were losing their listless grey scales.  They were young yet, so it was unclear what color the shimmery new scales would take. But instead of looking hideous, the creatures were kind of cute in, an odd way.
The King began to be drawn to the stables more frequently, and slowly his rage began to turn into compassion.  He found himself treating his beasts the way his Queen was treating his son's monsters. And his beasts slowly began to transform from ugly, smelly and terrifying creatures to majestic and unusual beasts,  The transformation was slow at first, for the beasts had known nothing but disdain from the king; and it took them a while to trust him.  The first thing to change was the stench of rot that had emanated from the beasts.  Over time they began to smell pleasantly of fresh air and woods and of what the King could only describe as freedom. Then, their appearance began to change as well, as more and more grey scales fell off to reveal the beautiful, shimmery, majestic violet, emerald and turquoise scales beneath. Slowly, the wings which had become gnarled and full of holes through neglect, began to unfurl and heal.  
The beasts were not the only things to change during this process.  The King himself began to hold his head higher, walk straighter and grew even more handsome in his confidence.
Then the day came, after several years of work, that the king brought his now beautiful beasts from the stable to live in the castle with he and his Queen.
The servants stood by in awe at the King as he smiled and led the majestic, winged creatures to his Queen, who wept silent tears of joy.  Her King and his beasts had been restored and were now ready to expand and rule their kingdom.
The King and the beasts, would arise early in the morning.  He would tether them to his chariot and fly through the skies, daily surveying and protecting their kingdom.  When he  returned at night, his beasts were a reminder and an inspiration to his son of what he and his beasts could become.
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