When my brother, Steve, was about five years old, he told mom he wanted to run away from home.
So, mom helped him prepare for the journey. She got him dressed appropriately and made him some sandwiches for the road and packed them in a brown paper lunch bag. Mom then rolled Steve in his wheelchair out onto the front sidewalk and told him to tell passersby that he was running away from home and ask them if they would take him home to live with them. Mom said she was going back in the house, but she would look out periodically to see if he was still there and if he still was she’d come out and check on him.
Well, fortunately, there were no passersby. I figure that’s what must’ve happened because otherwise this thing probably would’ve gotten all blown out of proportion. Because this was 1952 or so and if anybody would’ve come across an abandoned crippled kid saying to them, “Please take me home,” they probably would’ve freaked out and called the authorities and somebody from the state might’ve come and taken my brother away from my mother because she would’ve been seen as some kind of negligent shrew or something.
But just the opposite was true. First off, I’m sure the weather was conducive to running away from home. I’m sure my mother never would’ve set my brother out there on the sidewalk alone if there was a blizzard going on.
And second, I really doubt my brother was ever technically alone. I’m sure my mother was in the house watching through the window the whole time.
What she did was the opposite of negligent. It was actually quite brilliant. My mother knew a few things about raising crippled kids. She raised three of us. And she handled it pretty much the same way she handled it when my brother wanted to run away from home. She didn’t try to stop us from doing all the stuff kids want to do. She let us go out and do dumb shit and screw up and learn from it. She knew we could take it.
After a little while, mom went outside and said to Steve, “Oh, are you still here? Would you like to come back in the house?” Steve said yes.
Mom and Steve went back in the house and a little was that.
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