As they played, Brian flopped onto his back and—although he tried real hard—he couldn’t roll himself back onto his belly. Steph grabbed him and started to flip him over when Mama stopped her. “Let him do it, sweetheart.”
“But he can’t…”
“No such word as can’t!” she blurted. “Brian is abled, not disabled…and we’re never going to treat him like he’s handicapped. Let him learn to do it for himself, please.”
Each young face stared up at her, betraying a mix of confusion and disappointment.
Mama slowly took a seat on the floor with them and took a deep breath. “Do you guys like butterflies?” she asked.
They all nodded. “They’re my favorite!” Heidi said.
“Mine, too,” Mama confirmed with a smile. “But butterflies start out as fuzzy, crawly caterpillars.”
“Yuck,” Heidi said.
Steph smiled. “That’s cool,” Ross agreed.
Mama chuckled. “And when the time’s just right, each caterpillar forms its own cocoon. About two weeks later, when it’s time for them to fly off into the world as a butterfly, they have to struggle with all their might to break out of that cocoon. And believe me, they can’t fly until they’ve struggled for a very long time.” She searched their faces. They seemed to be following her. “If they didn’t have to struggle,” she explained, “then they wouldn’t be able to build up the muscles that they need to help them fly.” She looked at Brian and rubbed his belly. “We don’t want our little boy to be a caterpillar forever, right?”
“No, Mama,” they sang in chorus.
“That’s right,” she said. “Brian’s our butterfly, so he’s going to have to learn how to break out of his own cocoon.”
There were still some questions in their eyes, so Mama took a more direct approach. “We just need to be careful not to do everything for Brian. We have to allow him to do for himself, and this isn’t going to be an easy thing to do. Trust me, it breaks Mama’s heart sometimes to watch you guys struggle. But unless I let you struggle, you’ll never learn and be able to do for yourself and survive in this world. And that’s what we need to give Brian…that’s what he deserves. Breaking out of his cocoon is going to take a lot of hard work, without other people doing it for him. You guys…”
Although they continued to nod, they’d returned to playing on the floor. She’d reached the end of their attention spans and laughed. “Okay then,” she said. Stretching out on the floor with them, she gladly joined in their games.
Steven Manchester is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of his books, including the hit Goodnight, Brian. Steve’s next book will be released on June 18. You can learn at our website.