The Ruler

This is a story created for Campfire on July 30, 2021. Enjoy!

Not so long ago, grandmother worked with her grandchildren to pick peaches from trees outside her home. They were going to make their famous peach ice cream which the children loved.

The little boy, being a bit rambunctious and possessing a great imagination like most boys, quickly grew tired of the work. Instead, he made a crown out of the little branches and leaves, grabbed a stick from the ground and pronounced himself king of the wood.

The little girl, being just as creative and strong-willed as the little boy, decided she would be create her own kingdom. Making a crown for herself and holding an old branch as a scepter, she walked as a queen should through the yard.

The grandmother smiled at her grandchildren. Being a person with a lot of experience and a lot of love toward the children, she had grown patient and welcoming of their role playing. But this also gave her an idea.

As the little girl tried to coral the squirrels and chipmunks who loved the backyard, she spoke to her:

“Granddaughter, what kind of ruler will you be? Will you be a kind ruler or will be mean? Will you work to serve those around you or will you make decisions that will only be good for you and your closest friends?”

“I’m going to be richest, most powerful ruler in the world! Everyone will bow before me!” (Remember, she was just a little person with lots of imagination.)

“Well,” the grandmother replied, “you certainly can be that way as a ruler. But, remember, you get to choose. How do you think your subjects will respond to you?”

“They’ll have to do what I say all the time! They’ll be happy because we’ll be the best and I’ll tell them to be! And if they aren’t, I’ll throw them in the dungeon!”

The grandmother smiled and turned to the little boy.

“How about you, grandson? What kind of ruler will you be? Will you be a kind ruler or will be mean? Will you work to serve those around you or will you make decisions that will only be good for you and your closest friends?”

Being a bit older and more experienced than his younger sister, the boy sat back on his make believe thrown and said, “I want to be a good ruler. I want my people to like me… but I still want to be king. Can you be both, Grandmother?”

“Children, you get to choose how you’ll make others feel and, to a great extent, how you’ll feel about yourself. In fact, that choice may be the most important one you’ll ever make.

“Things in your life can be all about you – what others think about you, how they act around you, how they treat you. Or, you can decide to serve others, not worry about yourself so much, and draw happiness from the actual connection with those around you.”

The grandchildren were listening. There was something about their grandmother that made them want to listen. Plus, they had begun to eat the ripe peaches and they were so tasty.

“I know you each are pretending to be rulers right now. There will come a time in your lives when you’ll either pick a ruler for yourself or let one picked for you. That ‘ruler’ is an idea or way of being that you’ll listen to and follow in good times and bad.”

“What’s that ruler called,” Grandmother? the little girl asked.

“Well, there are a lot of names,” said Grandmother. “But the best one I know is called ‘attitude.’ Attitude is how you respond to the events around you and even the thoughts inside your head. And, you get to choose how you respond to everything.”

“But as a ruler, we’ll always have good days,” said the little boy.

“Oh, if only that were true, grandson. As you grow older, do me a favor and don’t hope for only good days. Instead, choose to build an attitude that will help you handle whatever bad comes your way.

“Grandchildren, if you remember nothing else, please remember this saying from one of the wisest rulers to ever live: Your life will be what your thoughts make it.

“Now, come help your old Grandmother get these peaches to the kitchen. I know two little Rulers who are excited about some ice cream.”

And they walked off together into a bright future.

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