When I was four years old, one of my best friends was an enormous tree, which was in the center of our front yard. I can still hear the sounds of the wind blowing through the branches and rustling the leaves. The tree was a strong fixture in my life and never made fun of me for being different.
I lived with my family next to an elementary school, and a lot of children would pass by the yard on their way to school or other activities. I had not started school yet, so I would often play outside in an imaginary world where I was in control.
I developed a keen ear for impending danger. Whenever I would hear the sound of children approaching, I would run behind the tree and stand quietly until the children had passed. I was different from the other children and was often teased about how I looked.
One day I was caught off guard and didn’t hear when some children approached. I ran to get behind the tree, and a boy saw me running through the yard. He jumped the fence and yelled that I could not hide from him. When I saw him jump the fence, I immediately left the tree and tried to get into my house. I made it up three of the steps before he pulled me from behind and punched me in the stomach.
My mother heard my cries and helped me up the steps into the house, where she held me until I stopped crying. I remember her telling me that life isn’t always fair but that I was safe.
Now, 29 years later, I still often visit that child under the tree. I tell him not to worry because his life will work out and although the road may be rocky at times, there are people who will always be there to help. Most important—I will never let him down or let him be left alone.
In my opinion a child should be allowed to hide behind trees as needed, but a strong sense of independence should be fostered in the child so that he/she can eventually stand independently of the tree and interact with other people. A balance is needed between the relief of “crutches“ and the pain that is necessary to move through for growth.
Guest Blogger Stephen Wright is 43 years old and works in San Francisco at Wells Fargo Bank. Stephen is a published writer with two articles published in PARADE magazine. He has also been featured in a Canadian magazine about craniofacial issues.
Stephen has Crouzon’s Syndrome and has had 23 surgeries which includes complete reconstruction of the face as well as skull restructuring.