Way back in the 60’s there was a popular book called: The Great Escape, about a bunch of Allied prisoners of war who are in a Stalag (a prisoner of war camp run by the Germans for Allied soldiers). It tells about how they patiently dug under the barbed wire to make their escape. A true story, that was made into a movie, starring: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough and Charles Bronson.
What does this have to do with anything?
A few days ago I had to go to my daughter’s day program site for a semi-annual review of her progress in both her day program and home life.
As I enter the building through the automatic doors, that with the aid of a sensor camera, open for me and make it easy for someone who can’t walk well or is being escorted either by foot or wheel chair to enter the building without touching the doors. This system works as well when departing the building.
They invite Ellen into the conference room and all the program directors, home (Intermediate Care Facility) personal and parent or guardians attend. Although Ellen doesn’t understand what is going on, she has a great time patting me on my: Head, arm, back and chest, usually full force, in her shear delight to be with me at a day treatment function that she knows is all about her. She will laugh out loud and go into a few demonstrative acts of love.
The meeting was finally over and we all said our goodbyes and thank you and proceed to walk down a long corridor to her classroom that is located a distance from the conference room where we all met. Ellen with her awkward gait, or should I say: in spite of, was about three steps ahead of everyone else. As we approach the reception area near the main entrance, Ellen’s head is starting to notice something, and I am sensing some kind of trouble! The closer to the entrance or exit, she is picking up speed where she suddenly makes an abrupt right hand turn. I see this and realize it is too late, Ellen has spotted her deed for the day, an outlet of escape!
Through the automatic doors that seem to be in cahoots with her, her master plan begins to take shape, as she flies out the front door with me fast on her heels, totally surprised and rather anxious because she is heading into a parking lot. My other fear is that she is so unsteady that with her awkward gait where she leans forward when she hurries, she will fall and hurt herself. By now a small posse is forming behind me, administrators, teachers, case workers, custodians and parent, all giving chase. Luring Ellen back into the building will not be easy, by law, the people who work with her cannot use any kind of physical restraint, so she has to be coaxed. I on the other hand, her guardian and parent can be more persuasive. As she reaches the parking lot, she is confused, looking for my car, but doesn’t see it. Confused all the more she makes a sharp left turn and heads along the building the posse in full pursuit! We finally catch up with her and try to convince her that escape is not an acceptable alternative to her otherwise happy life. I take her by the hand and she lets go with a right, ‘upside yo head’ as they say, sending my hearing aid flying to two pieces! The thought of calling in the Marines for help won’t happen since they are afraid of her too.
Once she realized she couldn’t go anywhere, that she couldn’t distinguish my car from any other in the parking lot, that she wasn’t going home with Daddy, she suddenly surrendered and became calm, to the relief of the posse and her one eared father.
Have happy day.