Once upon a time there was a baby dragon, only she didn’t know she was a dragon. She thought she was an ostrich.
She thought she was an ostrich because her egg was left in an ostrich nest and she hatched right alongside all her ostrich sisters and brothers.
She grew just as fast as the other nestlings only they grew tall and fluffy, and she grew wide and short. They developed beautiful feathers, and she grew ugly scales.
When they learned to run fast, she could only waddle.
Then she started to roar and they all hissed at her and told her to be quiet.
She was too loud, too fat, too short, too slow.
Worst of all she flapped her bluish, flappy wings and lifted off the ground. They tackled her and forced her back. How dare she try to fly! That’s not what her wings were for! She folded her wings and never tried again.
She grew bigger than all her family and friends. She felt huge and ugly and WRONG.
She tried picking up discarded feathers and wearing them stuck to her body with mud, hoping that it made her look more the way that she should look.
Her brothers and sisters only laughed at her.
Pretty soon, she was afraid to try anything knowing that she could never do it as well as her ostrich family.
When some of the neighbor kids, a zebra and a monkey, picked on her for being so big and scaly and waddle-y, she waddled away and cried big, dragon tears. It never occurred to her to defend herself with her big, dragon teeth. After all, they were right, she was big and scaly and waddle-y.
When they started to pick on her brother just because they were mean, and he was the smallest, she ran and hid, relieved that it wasn’t her. But she didn’t feel good about it.
She learned that she wasn’t brave, wasn’t strong, wasn’t fast, wasn’t beautiful. She wasn’t any of the things that she wanted to be.
Then the time came for them all to go to school.
She waddled as fast as she could trying to catch up with her brothers and sisters who raced across the plain on their beautiful, long legs to get there first.
She pounded her way along and waddled into the grove of trees where school would be. All the other young animals from the neighborhood where there. She stood at the back of the crowd not wanting to push her huge self in.
The young animals were honking and tittering, chatting and barking, they were all so excited to be there. It was really noisy. She didn’t dare say anything because she knew she would be too loud even in all this noise.
Then, there was a huge roar!
Her brothers and sisters turned to look at her accusingly. She just blinked her big dragon eyes back at them. She didn’t do it.
The roar sounded again! It came from the front of the group.
Most of the animals quieted, and lay down. Now she could see that in front of the group was their new teacher. Standing tall and beautiful, green scales glinting in the sun, long, graceful neck curving to an elegant head with large, golden, round pupiled eyes. Best of all, she had huge, blueish wings which she spread commandingly.
She looks like me, only she’s beautiful!
The teacher lifted into the air and roared once more. She had everyone’s full attention now, and school began.
At the end of the day, when it was time for everyone to go home, the teacher beckoned her to stay for just a minute.
Shyly, she waddled forward. The beautiful teacher waddled toward her too, wings folded upon her back.
“Now it’s time for you to learn how to be a dragon,” her teacher said.
And so she did.
Every so often a children's story comes knocking at the door of my heart and asks, like Pinocchio, to be made real, taking on form and life in our world.