Okay, preparing for bed tonight gave opportunity to pull a story out of my brain and lay it bare before my boys. It was all spur of the moment stuff.
The boys found it amusing (many jokes were cracked throughout), but they also got something else out of it that will subtly stay with them for a lot longer than if I’d just said, “Don’t be embarrassed by what makes you different. It also makes you special and who you are. You are not like anyone else on this earth.” It sounds so nice and feels so true, but saying that means far less than a story.
Even though it’s completely silly and reminds me a lot of a deer with a red nose I’ll share it with you anyway.
Billy the Unicorn Who Had Wings
(I should just say, before I start the story, we debated throughout about what a unicorn with wings should be called. Unipeg, Pegacorn, Unisus, Pegauni, and so on. One boy prefers Unisus, the other likes Pegacorn. There is probably a technical term for it, but I’ve never learned it, so we will leave it be for now.)
Billy was different. His mom said he was special. He was born with the most beautiful blue and green wings (think Seahawks), but while he had this special gift which gave him the ability to fly where other unicorns couldn’t, the wings only brought him sadness and grief.
All the other unicorn boys picked on Billy, teasing him about his wings. They called him all sort of names, jabbed him in the feathers with their golden horns, and teased him when the feathery frights got in the way during unicorn games.
Every day he’d go home from unicorn school feeling alone and upset. Why couldn’t he just be like all the other unicorns? His mom and dad did their best to reassure poor Billy about who he was, how much he was loved, and what a gift he truly had. But Billy just couldn’t see it.
Billy also didn’t realize that maybe all the teasing wasn’t even really about him or his wings. He didn’t know what those other unicorn boys were thinking. He didn’t know some of them were jealous of his wings, wishing they could fly, too. He didn’t know others were afraid because they didn’t understand the thing that made Billy different. He didn’t know that there were even a few who teased because they were teased, too, but for other reasons like having a small horn or a fluffy tail. Maybe if Billy realized that he wouldn’t have felt so horrible. Maybe he could have given them all a little more grace knowing they might be struggling, too.
But he didn’t know and he couldn’t seem to see past his own awkwardness.
One day he overheard some other unicorns talking about a wizard, the Great Gordon, who could perform miracles. Billy thought, maybe he can take away these wings so I can be like everyone else.
Billy didn’t stop to think about what he was doing. He flew off the unicorn island toward the land of wizards and men. There were no unicorns there, but Billy didn’t care. He only wanted to never be teased about his wings again.
It was very far and Billy was tired when he arrived. Wizard Gordon wasn’t hard to find, though. He’d landed right on the great magic man’s doorstep. With a tap of his horn, the door flew open.
Wizard Gordon stepped out and greeted Billy. His first thought was to admire Billy’s blue and green wings.
“What mighty fine wings you have unicorn lad.”
“They’re a burden, Great Wizard Gordon. I want them to be gone. I heard you do miracles. Can you remove my wings?”
“But why would you want that? They are beautiful, strong, and useful.”
“They other unicorn boys tease me and I have no friends. I’m too different. If I don’t have my wings I’ll be like everyone else and I’ll fit in.”
“But your wings are a part of you, different though they may be, lad. They are part of what makes you special and give you a gift that could be useful to you and others. I can take them away, but if I do you will never be able to go home. If you have no wings and must stay here you will still be different, for there are no unicorns here. Is this what you really want?” (One boy said, “Yeah, the squirrels will totally pick on him. Squirrels are NUTS!” hahahaha)
Billy didn’t think about not being able to get home. He could stay. He could even ask the wizard to take away his horn, too, but that was going too far. He only wanted to be like his fellow unicorns, to fit in and be accepted. But if he couldn’t go home, what was the point? If he stayed he’d still be different from anyone else.
Billy was sad because he so wanted to be without his wings and still go home.
“Listen, my unicorn friend, there is always something about each of us that makes us different; we are unique beings, each and every one. Wings or no, you are still you. But your wings are a gift given to you, not to make you better, but to help you be better. For now, you feel different and maybe despised, but no one else can do what you can do. Wear them with humility and pride, lad, for someday you will have reason to appreciate what makes you different.”
Poor Billy nodded in solemn acquiescence and flew home. He didn’t want to have to change his whole life to be rid of his wings, but he didn’t want to be teased or alone any more. He just couldn’t imagine not going home, so he had to keep the wings.
When he arrived home, his mom and dad were so angry! They yelled at him and crowded near him, squeezing him between the two of them. They’d been so afraid when he’d gone away. His mom was sure she’d never see him again and she cried and cried when he came home. They were so happy he came back, they had a celebration.
Billy still felt a little lonely, but he was reminded he was loved, and that was worth smiling about. And maybe the wizard was right. The wings made it so he could fly all the way across the sea to the land of wizards and men. No other unicorn could do that. Maybe having wings wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
They would like another story tomorrow night. Billy might have another to tell.