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Some Kids I Have Known
Horse Apples


Horse ApplesIf 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, also.

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.

"Boys!" "Boys!" "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.

"Jerrad?"

"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 upset."

"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, "STOP IT."

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?"


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