the slang term "horse apples" is used, I never cease to
remember the two little boys we had as day time guests in our home, the
year of 1967. Their mother had a demanding job for the attorney who was
defending Jack Ruby in Dallas, Texas. She had to drive down town through
heavy traffic and being a very conscientious person felt very
responsible for her work in that office. Their mother was active in her
faith and had a new marriage she was balancing with everything else,
Considering the woman's heavy schedules
in actuality her son's were very well adjusted. They came into our home
with well-behaved manners. Maybe they had learned during their short
lives what was or wasn't expected of them. At any rate they made a very
pleasant addition to our family.
Disabled children were just coming to the
place where they were not institutionalized. More and more accepted into
society, churches, in shopping malls and just generally by the public.
Whatever that higher plan for the children was these boys seemed to be
ready to take our daughter's disability equally upon their shoulders.
They made it a part of their time there to see she was constantly a part
of their games even if it was only as a spectator. If they were on the
swing, set they lifted her to the swing seats where she was comfortable.
When they played one or another game, she was the score keeper, marking
off each point. Sand castles gave her a place where they sat with her
for long periods of time devising every plan and architect for their
towns and structures, roads and such in the soft material.
For every Eden there is always the
imperfection. In this case the children's tormentors were the kids just
one lot away. These were the off springs of strong Texas parents whose
backgrounds were all rooted in the military ways of the founders. This
was no problem since, also these boys had that same training. Neither
did the back and forth insults bother us since usually, it was just
petty things called back and forth to each other. We had to keep a tight
rein on our charges since we weren't their parents. The children across
the way were older and many times left on their own, but generally, they
didn't come out of their backyard. However, an uneasy truce existed.
On this particular day it seemed the boys
were more agitated by the insults called back and forth. Finally it
seemed to be necessary to look into the thing.
"What is going on?" "You are getting a little
"steamed" about something today?"
"You would too," The boys were
adamant, "If you knew what they were saying!"
"Oh?" "Well try me?"
I was now interested.
At first the boys were reluctant to tell
what was happening. The oldest boy was just coming into his teen years
and he was very cautious. His dark good look rendered him above
criticism. There was absolutely no way he was going to "rat"
on anyone. As he glanced off into the distance I knew there would be no
need to try to question this well seasoned child who had lived by his
wits through a divorce, heaven knows how many baby sitters, and whatever
else was brought upon him by modern society.
The younger boy was still open and ready
to share what he felt was an injustice in his conscience set there by
some higher being.
"Yes." He was schooled in good
manners in responding when addressed.
"Can you tell me what is happening?
It seems to be a bit more than the usual in that you boys are
"We weren't bothering them." He
was having to work himself around to telling her because his older
brother was standing there close to him.
"I know you weren't. How could you?
You haven't been out of the yard."
The younger boy looked to his brother
with an expression that said he was unsure about what to do. He then
looked over to his new younger friend in the wheelchair. With a look to
go against his tender years he drew himself up.
The little girl was innocently as usual
just a by stander. She knew what was happening though, but she was
equally true to her friends. Not a word did she utter.
"She not a "retardo." The
little boy looked down to the ground with almost a heavy despondent way
as to have something put on him that was just too much to bear.
There was nothing to do but hug the
little boy. "I know." "I know." "The only thing
I can say is maybe we can learn from this how much pain can be caused
from calling names."
The rest of the afternoon we could hear
the boys lobbing the large green heavy horse apples all the way, high up
into the air so they came down in a heavy thud on the play house of the
kids in the lot away from them. The kids would scream their complaint,
This went on most of the afternoon. When
the boys outside had enough of the retaliation, she could hear them
yell. "How YOU like them HORSE APPLES?"