Volume 3, Issue 3, page 8
visitor. "Take it out onto the floor."
Lonnie responds instantly. He seems on the
verge of obedience. Then he shakes his head.
Then he sits back. The principal, not knowing,
steps to the closet and takes out the white
fire engine, places it in front of Lonnie.
Lonnie draws back, as if afraid. He stares at
the fire engine as if he wonders how it got
there. But when the principal and visitor look
away, he moves the white fire engine back and
The visitor sits beside Lonnie on the floor,
this in spite of the way the principal explains that she works: "I don't go into the
children's world to help them. There is so
little in their still world that can help
them. I seek to bring them into my world,
where there are new things for them to know.
It isn't the right approach, I think, to become a child to train or educate children. We
are not training or teaching children to become children, which they already are. We're
training or teaching them to become older than
they are, to make progress into the future."
But the visitor, in effect, descends to
Lonnie, seeking knowledge of Lonnie.
"Lonnie," says the visitor softly, aloud.
Lonnie ignores the visitor, but shakes his
head as if he said: "There's no use; it's no
good." He turns partly away.
"Lonnie," the visitor repeats, but this
time he does the obvious; he softly croons, or
chants, the name. And Lonnie responds instantly. He turns back, with his handsome smile --
and the visitor makes a mistake. He thrusts
out his hand to Lonnie. Lonnie brushes the
hand brusquely aside. No matter, even negative
responses may prove valuable. Lonnie's left
hand lies listlessly open on Lonnie's knee.
The visitor places his own hand beside that of
Lonnie. Lonnie brushes it away, more forcefully
this time, and turns his back. Instantly the
visitor retreats to his chair, and Lonnie
turns again. He locks eyes with the visitor.
His expression is not resentful, apologetic.
It is, if anything, a frank mute statement:
"Don't experiment with me! Don't het too
friendly too fast! Don't forget to consider my
It's time for the bus to take the children
home, and Lonnie is instructed by the principal to put the toys away. She does this in a
series of brisk commands, each of which Lonnie
obeys instantly, without the slightest hesita
aion, and without mistakes. He may throw the
toys back into the closet; he may throw wooden
blocks into their boxes; he may slam both
sides of the door too hard, and close the
wrong side first -- but he does do what the
principal bids him.
In the main room of the House on Martha
Avenue, children who can dress themselves do
so. Lonnie dons his jacket and cap. He manages
to don his left rubber. It's a cold wet day,
and scarves, rubbers, thick jackets, and earmuffs are needed, though not every child has
Lonnie finds himself unable to don his
right rubber. He goes through the motions, but
they don't produce results. He sits, waiting
for someone to help him, or don the rubber for
him. The room is busy with many children.
A teacher pulls on lonnie 's right rubber.
He bursts into hysterical laughter. It's difficult not to believe that Lonnie isn't pulling everybody's legs.
He ceases laughing when one of the teachers forms the children in column behind her
for the march out to the bus.
Outside, filing into the bus, the laughter
of the children -- of mongoloid, feebleminded,
cerebral palsy victim, of Lonnie -- sounds just
like the laughter of normal children.
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