Thursday, November 5, 2009
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A tall, 14 year-old boy in green shorts and orange wellingtons was walking along the Cornish coast one day when he came across a shiny object in the sand. The round sphere, no bigger than his thumb, was poking out behind a seashell.
It cannot be a pearl, he thought to himself. The color is wrong.
"But it is just as precious." A girl about his age walked up alongside him. She answered as if she had read his mind.
Startled, the lad turned his head.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to...I just didn't want the marble to get lost again."
"Is it yours?" the boy asked.
"Yes, but I do not need it any longer. You take it."
"What do you mean? Why is it so special?" the boy wondered aloud as he bent down, reached for the marble, then slipped it into his left pocket.
"You see, there is a place, where there once was a princess..." The girl started...
She opened the shutters of her miniscule castle. Yet, by her standards, it was the absolute grandest manor in all of her kingdom. The outside world's light seeped through the surface of the blue marble in which she lived just enough to call everyone to a new day.
The violet birds sang around each house to wake its inhabitants with a different tune. Tweet, tweet. Coo, coo. Pwee, pwee. Shroo, shroo.
A perfect green carpet covered the rolling hills of this land. The trees stood tall. The flowers reflected the rainbow as each person passed. Everything in Marble Kingdom was perfect, except the princess.
What do you think?
*Have you ever found “the perfect” seashell or rock while walking along the beach? What made it “perfect” to you?
*In what ways could you possibly imagine a princess not being perfect?
Her name was Sylvie because her eyes sparkled like the finest of metals. Her hair was the brown of chestnuts. Her skin never lost its baby softness.
She was a very kind girl with many friends because no one could resist her inviting smile or her playful laughter. The King and the Queen often told each other how they were the luckiest of parents to have such a charming child.
Each day, Sylvie would open her shutters, greet her animal friends with grains she kept by the window sill, put on one of the many pink or yellow or blue or purple dresses she owned and twirl downstairs to say good morning to all the generous people who worked for her family. Out of the goodness of their hearts and to be near such an angelic child, the house staff asked for nothing in return.
As soon as she stepped off the last of the 127 orange velvet steps to the grand front hallway, her parents came to greet her and take her by the hand to sit at the royal dining table.
She always had whatever she liked to eat. Some mornings, she ate bacon and eggs. Some mornings, she had pancakes with maple syrup from her own maple tree. Some mornings, she ate oatmeal with blueberries. If she fancied it, she got it beautifully presented. The same routine was true for lunch and for dinner. The cook prepared for her everything from grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches to pasta and meatballs to the freshest fish to the most tender steak. If she hungered for it, she could have it.
And tea time! That was one of her favorite moments because the pastry chef made the most gorgeous cakes. Pink cakes, fairy cakes, fruit cakes, sugary icing cakes. He also made tarts from the fruits of her orchards.
If Sylvie was not eating, she was playing. In her garden were rows and rows of tall green bushes. She and her friends, boys and girls alike, would chase each other running in and out and around each shrub. They would also sail miniature boats back and forth across the ponds. Because all the children in the kingdom, younger and older as well as her own age wanted to play with her, they had to take turns. But, Sylvie always decided upon a number to be invited. Some days she felt like having two friends come play. Other days, she would feel like twelve or thirty or eighty-two. Every day was a party with games and prizes.
After dinner, Sylvie's parents would read her as many stories as she wanted and from whichever books she chose. If she was really tired, she would only ask for three. But, some nights, when she was not ready to be alone in her bed, she would ask the King and the Queen to read her ten or fifteen tales, or simply just stay on the edge of her bed holding her hand or rubbing her back until she fell asleep.
In the morning, the teeny, tiny Kingdom of Marble would awake again to the same sunshine, azure-marbled sky and talented birds singing to everyone a good morning.
Nothing changed. The citizens were happy. The royal family was happy. Princess Sylvie was the most envied and loved of anyone in the history of this fine land. There were never any changes or surprises.
Sylvie, on the other hand, wanted to feel the shock of something out of the ordinary. She tried to move her parents' belongings around, just to hear her father ask, "Has anyone seen my pen?" or her mother cry, "My crown is not where I placed it!" But that never happened because the staff worked so hard to always keep everything in its place.
Sylvie would balance along the edge of the garden fountains feeling the spray from the water on her face and wonder what real rain was like. She laughed and played with each child but did not have one to whom she could tell her secret. She rarely saw the same child twice as she wanted to give all the children a chance to play on the royal grounds.
So, in Marble Land where everyone smiled under a perfectly round lemon slice of sunshine every day, Sylvie did not. And, it was starting to show.
What do you think?
*What is a perfect day for you? What do you eat? What do you play and with whom?
*Have you ever played a trick on your friends or family just to see what their reaction would be? Was it what you expected?
*When the day does not go the way you want, how do you show it?
It all started one morning whilst she was eating her breakfast. "Tomorrow, I would like to make breakfast," she announced.
"Excuse me?!" her mother, father, nanny, housekeeper, butler, gardener, veterinarian (who was there for appearances because her pets never got sick) exclaimed in unison.
"I would like to make breakfast."
"But you have never done that!" replied her mother, father, nanny, housekeeper, butler, gardener, veterinarian and shoe-shiner in unison.
"Right. That's why I want to."
"Oh," sighed her mother, father, nanny, housekeeper, butler, gardener, veterinarian, shoe-shiner, dress-maker and toy-repairer (a crowd had formed) in unison.
So the next morning, Sylvie came down the stairs in her favorite pink dress and her lacy pink slippers and went into the kitchen! She had never been in the kitchen before. The reflective surfaces of the appliances woke her into even more excitement.
The chef hesitantly asked her what she would like to make. Her eyes pivoted around the impeccably shined cabinets and mopped floor and said, "I have never had a bowl of cereal. Where do I find that?"
"We do not buy boxes of cereal," replied the chef a bit haughtily.
"Do we not have some barley, or oats, pumpkin seeds, or anything of the sort?"
"All grains, seeds, nuts and dried fruit are found in this cupboard, Princess." He pointed above her head.
So, she stepped onto the kitchen stool, opened the door and proceeded to pour a little bit of this and a bit more of that into her porcelain bowl the chef swiftly slid under her arm. She guessed by her posted drawings that the refrigerator door was across the room and went over to get some yogurt. She also noticed some chocolate syrup and pulled out the bottle of milk.
After placing her very first breakfast on the breakfast tray, she carried it all over to, not the dining room table, but to the kitchen table. She had a lovely chat with the chef and the housekeeper about whatever they were going to do that day.
"That sounds like loads of fun!" the princess was exclaiming just as her parents stormed in through the swinging door.
"Where have you been? We were so worried!" asked the King and the Queen as they stopped ever so briefly to survey this room they had never seen before either.
“What could you worry about? I have just had the tastiest breakfast ever and I made it by myself,” reassured Princess Sylvie.
The royal couple turned around slowly, walked out to the pearl-white living room and headed to the terrace under the royal blue, marbled sky. They looked at each other in perfect bewilderment. “Since when does Sylvie want to do things by herself? We never do anything for ourselves. What would have given her such an idea?” they pondered.
What do you think?
*Have you ever made your own breakfast? What did you make? If not, what would you make?
*What is something you had to wait until you were “bigger” to do? How did you feel once you did it?
*What is something else you look forward to doing?
The following day, Sylvie not only prepared her own breakfast again, sitting with her parents this time, she made her bed!
“It looks so nice,” she had told the housekeeper earlier, “the way I tucked the cover just right under the pillow and posed my plush horse on top.”
Now, Princess Sylvie had always been one to smile, but her smile was changing. It was not just charming, it was sincere.
Each day, Sylvie would do another task around the castle for the first time ever and enjoy it! She set the table for lunch, did the washing up after tea time, set up her badminton net, alphabetized the books on her bookshelves as well as ran her own bath. She was having a brilliant time.
Now, the princess was always one to dance around the castle, but now she was dancing differently. She felt free.
One day, the King and the Queen met again on the terrace in the perfectly golden sunlight and contemplated the situation. “She is getting a bit out of hand. I don’t always know where she is,” said the King.
“I don’t always know what she is doing,” worried the Queen.
The next day, Princess Sylvie came down the royal staircase in her royal floral pajamas and royal fuzzy bathrobe crying!
“My dear, what is the matter?” lamented the King and the Queen. “Are those tears in your eyes? You have never wept in your life.”
“What have you done to yourself?” chimed her mother, father, nanny, housekeeper, butler and gardener (who had seen Sylvie perched outside her window) in unison. “Enough is enough!”
Indeed, silvery sparkles were streaming down Princess Sylvie’s blushed cheeks.
“Oh Mother, Father. There is a mother bird in the tree outside my window. She is trying to teach her baby bird to fly but the baby is too scared to try. I am afraid he will fall.”
“That’s sad,” replied her mother, father, nanny, housekeeper, butler, gardener, and veterinarian.
“What can we do to help?” pleaded Sylvie. “If the baby does not learn to fly on her own, she will never survive.”
Knowing that only the baby bird could feel if he were ready to fly, the King and the Queen clasped each other’s hands and put their arms around the Princess.
“We are very proud parents,” the King told Sylvie.
“We now understand that our baby is ready to fly,” the Queen added confidently.
With that, Princess Sylvie ran up the velvety orange steps, through her bedroom door, past her lavender canopy bed and to the window. Only one bird was sitting in the nest on a nearby branch. The other one, the baby, was flapping his wings awkwardly but successfully in the wind.
“He did it! And, I know I can do it, too,” thought the Princess.
Many years passed since that morning and Sylvie took more and more pleasure taking care of herself, her bedroom, her toys, and eventually her schoolbooks and sports equipment. She ventured as far as she safely could in her little Marble Kingdom to meet her fellow men and women. She grew into an elegant young princess. She was happy with her accomplishments and determined through her failings to always do better.
The blue sky, bright sun and cottony clouds over the land never did fail. The days continued to be perfect for the Kingdom of Marble even if they never were any longer so perfect for Princess Sylvie. Always trying new skills and adventures, she had her ups and downs. And, she was perfectly happy.
The teenage boy was now rolling the marble between his fingers. He looked up to thank the girl for the story. But, he did not see her. His eyes simply followed the ever so small footprints trailing down the shore.
What do you think?
*Do you think the boy will keep the marble or toss it back onto the beach? Why would he do either?
*Think of a time when you were really happy. Share it or just keep smiling as you fall asleep.