This story is completely unrelated to anything going on in my life and is on loan to me from Mrs. Clover. I laughed three times this week when thinking about poor Shadrack!
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Shadrack. Shadrack was a confident boy of four years old. Full of life, and very good-looking.
Shadrack had a good life. A life in which clothing was optional, boys ruled and girls drooled and pre-kindergarten was right around the corner.
Yes, life was very good for Shad.
And then it happened. The day came when all the pre-kindergarteners would gather together, exert their dominance by show of force (or by who made the best gun noises) and laugh and play at the McDonald's playplace.
Where all your dreams come true.
At least, that was what Shadrack had always heard. And the anticipation was killing him! This was going to be HIS day for glory!
Everything was going great for a while. Shadrack was king of the playplace, running from side to side. Climbing higher and higher. He wasn't even afraid. Not even a little bit. Occasionally, in a show of confidence, he would wave proudly out the plastic window to his adoring mother, down below.
Yes, he was King of the castle, today.
But it was getting warm.
"Is anyone else hot in here?" he shouted as sweat poured off his dashing face.
No answer. Maybe he was alone? Maybe the other kids couldn't cut it up here in his castle.
But he wouldn't give in...No sir. He was a fighter!
So, Shadrack did was any fighter would do.
He started removing the clothing that was hindering his ability to play freely, taking care of the restrictions that sweaty, hot clothing commanded. Plus, he needed to cool down so he could play without requiring water... These were strategic decisions. Necessary losses in his battle for victory!
He knew, if he left this amazing castle, he would be forced to sit and eat. His mom would probably wipe his face down with a wet one. He shuddered at the thought. What would the other pre-kindergartners think of him then? All dominance would be lost in that moment.
He couldn't sacrifice all that he'd worked so hard for.
But it was still really hot.
"That's okay, though" he thought to himself " There's more clothing that can be removed". As long as there is clothing that can come off, there is play that can be had!
And then the time came. He knew...there was nothing else to do besides make his way back down to the group. He had so enjoyed his unrestricted play! He was carefree frolicking in the joys of the playplace. Of course, it was still hot. And it appeared everyone else had already gone down.
He had solidified his place as the playplace champion. Plus, he was hungry. The food was down there. His mom, whom he loved dearly, was down there.
It was time to relinquish his throne.
And so, Shadrack began his dissent out of the castle. Making his exit down the tall slide (in the fashion of a true champion).
In all his glory.
But without any of his clothes.
You could have heard a pin drop.
Shadrack froze. What was going on?
Why was everyone staring at him?
Where were his clothes?
His mind started racing......back through the playplace that he had taken as his throne....it was hot...he remembered it being SO hot up there.....When he began his journey, he was fine. His clothes were dry...Yes, it must have been the heat. His clothes were wet with sweat...His eyes were shifting back and forth around the playground. To the parents. To the kids. Where was his mom? Staring at him..Yes, she too was staring at his arrival.....where were his clothes?.
Shadrack couldn't move.
He couldn't speak.
He was frozen in time. In space.
Grieving the loss of his recent victory in the playplace.
He could never return to that place. That was then. His new reality was here.
On the ground.
With his mother.
And without any of his clothes.
Yes, this was his life now.
Just chicken nuggets.
And then he was snapped out of his stages of grief:
"Shadrack!!! You have to go get your clothes!!!" His father was demanding he return to the place of his demise? How could he ever show his face in that place again? He couldn't.
Over and over again, his father was demanding he return to retrieve his clothing. It was getting dark.
Mr. Clover would have to go for him.
He watched as his father returned to the place he once was king.
The first thing Mr. Clover noticed was the heat.
As sweat boiled down his face, he thought...."It must be 80...maybe even 85 degrees up here"
Mixed with the frustration of having to contort his body into a playplace designed for his 40 lb son, the sweat and heat were enough to drive him crazy.
He started shouting out demands..
"Has anyone seen Shadrack's clothes?" "Can anyone help me?"
Moving through the barrage of tunnels and boxes...occasionally glancing out the seaport style windows, he couldn't help but feel for his son.
His clothing.....it was so....wet....
"How could they let children play up here in this heat?" he started thinking. He would argue on his son's behalf when all of this was said and done. Heck, he wished he could disrobe too, up here in the Sauna in the Sky.
Finally a response...
"Mr. Clover....I think his socks are over here" a sweaty and red-faced preschooler shouted.
"Yeah, here are his pants, too" came from the other side of the playplace.
A clearer picture was developing of how this situation occurred.
One by one, as the heat tormented his child, Shadrack was removing an article of clothing at a time.
One by one, he was insisting that play was more important than comfort.
And one by one, his father was able to collect all of his clothing...
Minus one sock.....
Collateral damage, they would call it.
If they ever spoke of this day again.
He came down the playplace in the same glorious fashion as his sweaty, red-faced, naked-as-the-day-he-was-born, son....on the slide.
and returned to him, his clothing.
Valuable lessons were learned on this hot July afternoon day.
Lessons about pride and stature.
Lessons about knowing when it's time to rest.
Lessons about the value of indoor, air-conditioned playplaces.
And most importantly, lessons about our cultures demand that you wear clothing in public.
All hard lesson for a four-year old to learn.
But important lessons, just the same.
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