Dear Yai Yai,
I don’t so much mind the pretty pink princess phase. But I am sort of over the bossy thing. So I wrote you a story about why being bossy doesn’t get you very far.
(and by bossy I mean obnoxious… not “good at leadership”)
[Human names have been changed for the blog]
The Princess Problem
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Yai Yai.
She was a princess in the Kingdom of Richard.
She liked to do the things she thought princesses should. She wore pink dresses, tiaras, and jewelry. She could be very bossy. When she didn’t get her way she stomped her foot and shouted. Sometimes she growled.
In fairy tales the princess always gets her way. So she figured if she was a princess, she was entitled.
At dinner she was served carrots. She had never had a carrot before, but she was sure she did not like it. “I HATE CARROTS!” she screamed, and threw them on the table.
The royal King Nathaniel and the great Queen Rea were less than impressed with this behavior. But alas, they knew not what to do. They asked their friends in the Land of the Internet for help, and the Internet replied, “Send her on a quest! Let her learn the ways of the world!”
The king and queen thought long and hard, but could not agree on a quest. Until one day Queen Charley from the neighboring kingdom of Shonedorf called in a panic! “Help!” she cried, “Prince Casey and Princess Cora have run away from home! I can’t find them, and I am so worried!”
So it was that Yai Yai found herself with a bag of essentials, standing next to the brave knights Squirt the Grumpy and Maya the Excitable.
The king and queen looked on nervously, kissed them goodbye, and they were off.
Yai Yai realized quickly that she had no idea how to find Shonedorf, and that she was going to need help. She ran through the forest as fast as she could, until she came upon the house of The Grange. She banged her fist on the door, and Prince Leon answered. “Prince Leon! I demand you give me a map of the kingdoms!”
Prince Leon looked at her and said, “No, it is MINE!”
Yai Yai stomped her foot and shouted, “YOU HAVE TO SHARE!”
But it was Leon’s map, and he did not have to share. So Yai Yai stormed away.
She asked Maya and Squirt where they should go next. But they stayed silent. Probably because they were a dog and a cat.
She wandered aimlessly in the woods for hours, and she grew tired.
She followed the river that she hoped would lead her to Shonedorf. But she knew she was lost. She sat with her head in her hand and wished she had asked Leon more nicely for the map of the kingdoms.
She spotted Sir Benson, Leon’s trusty steed, sleeping on the opposite bank. She shouted to wake him up. He opened one eye and looked in her direction. “Benson! Help me get across the river to talk to you!” Benson flopped an ear over his eye and went back to sleep. Yai Yai crossed her arms and screamed, “NOW!”
Benson stood up, turned around, and sat down with his back to Yai Yai.
She thought for a minute, and realized that to be received with kindness she has to give kindness.
She called out, “Sir Benson? I am sorry that I spoke so rudely. Is there any way that you can help me across the river so that I may apologize in person?”
With that, Benson used his nose to push a fallen tree branch across the river.
After Yai Yai was safely on the other side she asked, “Benson, I’m very sorry for shouting. Would you be so kind as to take a note of apology to Prince Leon?”
Benson answered with a quick kiss on Yai Yai’s cheek. So Yai Yai reached into her bag and brought out crayons and paper. She scribbled quickly, “Dearest Leon, I am sorry that I lost my temper with you. I hope you will accept my deepest apology. I understand that the map is yours, and you did not wish to part with it.”
As Benson loped away, Yai Yai turned in place, and stared at her surroundings. None of this was familiar. She must have left the Kingdom of Richard. She shivered as darkness fell and the air became frigid. Knights Maya and Squirt curled around her so they could all stay warm.
She was awoken at daybreak by two noses, one dry and one wet, pressed against her cheek. Squirt was staring with an impatient look on his face, and Maya was wagging her tail so hard that her entire body shook.
Yai Yai thought about what she knew. She realized suddenly that when they rode in the royal carriage to the Kingdom of Shonedorf they rode towards the rising sun. Last night the setting sun had been on her left. That meant she had been walking north. She would have to turn to her right to get back on the path to find Casey and Cora.
She walked as the sun rose above her. She was running low on water, and she worried that she would never find Casey and Cora and get them home safely. Suddenly Maya lifted her black nose into the air and sniffed. Then she let out a small happy whimper and ran as fast as she could into a thick stand of trees.
Yai Yai followed cautiously, until she broke through to a clearing where she found a roughly assembled teepee and a big brown dog guarding the entrance.
“GRETA!” Yai Yai exclaimed as she spotted the official Labrador of Shonedorf, “Oh Greta! I am so happy to see you! Are Casey and Cora with you?”
Greta wagged her tail and smiled, then sniffed Maya’s bottom, and licked Squirt on the nose. Squirt made a grumpy face and quickly used his paw to wipe away the slobbery kiss. Greta sauntered off towards the teepee, and Yai Yai followed.
When she entered the teepee she saw Casey and Cora sitting next to each other, eating sandwiches.
They said, “Goodness! Princess Yai Yai! You found us! We thought we would be here forever. We ran away from home because mommy would not let us watch The Lego Movie for the fourth time yesterday. We were so mad. But then we got lost, and even when we were not mad anymore, we still could not find our way home.”
Yai Yai frowned, “you are lost? But if you are lost, that means I am still lost. We are all lost. How will we ever get home?”
She was so thirsty, and so tired. Her beautiful princess dress was ripped from the thorny underbrush, and there was so much dirt under her fingernails. She did not feel much like a princess at all.
She noticed they had bottles of kefir in a lunch box. “GIVE ME SOME Ke…” she started, then she stopped. When she spoke again she said, “I am very thirsty. Would you mind sharing your kefir?”
Casey handed her the bottle, and she drank a little. But not too much, because there was not much left.
Greta looked at Squirt and Maya and walked over to a bowl filled with water. Squirt and Maya drank the cool, clear water, though Squirt looked slightly disdainful at the dog spit on the rim.
After they were refreshed, Greta’s ears perked up, Maya sniffed the air again, and Squirt swished his long grey tail. They looked at each other, and ran off towards the woods.
Yai Yai looked at Casey and Cora and worried, “Great. Now our knights have abandoned us!”
They decided that they should stay where they are, because they had no map, and did not know the way home.
“Remember when you got lost at the great royal InterKingdom camp out?” Yai Yai reminded them, “The queens and kings said that we should stay put when we are lost.”
So they sat and played games and told stories and watched the sun start its descent. As the sun hovered on the horizon they heard movement in the woods. They went into the teepee and huddled together, nervous about what might be out there. But then suddenly they saw a brown dog, followed by a white dog, followed by a grey cat.
Cora laughed and said, “Greta! Maya! Squirt!”
Then, lumbering along, came a hound with long ears and a tired face.
“BENSON!” Yai Yai shouted in joy!
Sir Benson walked up to Yai Yai, and she saw that he had a note on his collar. She removed it and read,
“My dearest Princess Yai Yai, thank you so much for your apology. I have enclosed the map of the kingdoms, and instructed Sir Benson to stay with you until you have arrived safely in Shonedorf. Much love, Prince Leon.”
Yai Yai cried with happiness as she realized that they would be able to find their way home in the morning.
They spent that evening staring at the stars and making up names for constellations. They tried to guess if the moon was waxing or waning. They made wishes on shooting stars. The air filled with fireflies and it felt like they were actually walking through the firmament.
Eventually they all fell asleep in a big pile and slept soundly with the knowledge that tomorrow they would be going home.
At dawn they woke slowly. They gathered all of their belongings, being careful to leave the clearing just as they found it. They marched through the forest, following the map as it took them towards Shonedorf. They crested the top of a hill and before them lay the castle. They stopped to pet the guard chickens, but moved on quickly as Squirt began to lick his lips.
They entered through the west gate and were greeted by Queen Charley and King Brandon, who were overwhelmed with relief to see them.
Queen Charley cried, “I am just so happy to have you back! You gave us quite a fright!”
Prince Casey said, “We should not have run away just because we did not get what we wanted. I’m so sorry.”
Princess Cora said, “I sorry too.”
Brandon said, “Let’s have a royal feast!”
“But first – bath time!” said Charley.
As she shuffled all three adventurers into the bathroom, Princess Yai Yai looked at herself in the mirror. She was a mess. Her face was covered in mud and scratches, her tiara was lopsided, her hair was tangled, and her dress was far from pink. But instead of feeling frustrated, she thought, “I don’t have to be shiny, helpless, and bossy to be a princess! I can brave, clever, and work nicely with my friends to save ourselves! I am a strong and awesome princess!”
After the bath there was a great royal party in the garden. Everyone came from all the surrounding kingdoms. The royal dogs and cats dined on beautiful cushions of silk, and the trees were filled with fireflies.
She was served all of her favorite foods: strawberries, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. But then she noticed her plate had carrots on it. She opened her mouth, and surprised even herself when, instead of screaming, she tried a bite. They were sweet and soft and it turned out… she liked them very much.