Yellow Tulips


New Member
<u>Yellow Tulips</u> by Hugh Leichtman

"I often introduce my speeches about children whose development is at risk by comparing them to a single yellow tulip standing out against a field of those perfectly harmonious in shape and color. I'll explain..."

Several years ago I went for a quick walk to Boston's Trinity Church to catch a peek of the early spring flower beds. As expected, the tulips were up in all their glory, row upon row. The pure sunlight of the early afternoon transformed their petals into translucent bells. Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed something wrong. Something most definitely was wrong. Something was askance in one of the extended beds. Sitting among the whiter than white tulips that were elegantly framed by a ribbon of radiantly pink ones was a single yellow tulip. It was awkwardly hanging out with its peers. It was a bit taller with a slightly smaller bell composed of slightly irregular petals. It was so different that it caused me a flashing instant of discomfort.

I immediatly understood that recording the yellow tulip's situation was a necessity. I double timed it back to my office, grabbed my ever-present camera, returned to Trinity and shot an entire roll of my best film. The yellow tulip was photographed from every angle, close-up, far-away, I couldn't bear missing a detail. "Why was I doing this with such a passion?" I whispered to myself. "Because such a beautiful sight does not often come around." I answered back.

"Because the yellow tulip won't be around for that long is really the truth of the matter." I confessed. Right then I vowed to return to the yellow tulip daily to follow its destiny. This didn't prove much of a task. The following morning it was gone. Snapped off close to the ground and thrown aside. I had not expected this inevitable scenario to play out so quickly. I had thought its quirky beauty might be tolerated longer. As I mulled this scene over, I realized that the yellow tulip was a metaphor for children whose constitutions and life experiences have turned their lives into something different than most. And just as the yellow tulip had been broken, so would the development of these children if they weren't protected and nurtured.

It didn't take much of a leap to view Wediko's high-risk children as children with yellow tulip brains, different types of brains, capable of wonderful things if facilitated and kept out of harm's way.


Active Member
I like that. One thing though - there are a lot more yellow tulips in the white field than just a stray one here or one there - but they are in the minority. And a great deal does depend on the best chance we can give them. Sometimes our best efforts do not seem enough - the wheels still fall off. But there are enough times when we learn what works and what doesn't and apply it to those of our children who are different, and get better results than we would have if we didn't put in all this effort.

I saw a couple of young people in the street this afternoon. One I've known for some years - a childhood friend of difficult child 1, they went in different directions. He's not got any disorder as such, he's just a young man who never did too well at school. Trouble is, he got in with the wrong crowd. he's still trying to make his way in life but his parents, although good people, left their boys to get up to the sort of high jinks that some parents consider harmless. I think they would be horrified if they knew just what their sons have got up to over the years.
Two others stood on the street corner with him - brother and sister. Children of an abusive father and a helpless mother - the son was thrown out at 12. The daughter has apparently recently returned home after being thrown out originally at about 14 and being bounced back and forth over years. The kids are violent - both have records. Both are incorrigible. Both are currently on good behaviour bonds which are likely to not last the term - both are abusive and physically violent, involved in drugs (using and trafficking) as well as vicious assaults.
Maybe if they'd had parents who cared, or did the right thing they might have stood a chance. But how can a boy raise himself from the age of 12, when the only example he's ever had was his violent father?
I believe the parents did go to court with him for his most recent appearance - the father has made threats against the victim of his son's last assault, for taking it to the police.
Others get dragged in to this also. Other kids whose parents do try to do what they can for their yellow tulips, but whose work gets undermined by these failures of other parents.

Some kids have a diagnosis which explains their propensity to problems. other kids have no diagnosis, just a rotten start in life. Some kids have both. Life isn't fair, especially when kids like this get thrown together in an atmosphere of anarchy and violence. They are taught that violence can be productive - their education (often self-education by necessity) undermines any good that others have tried to do. These kids aren't the yellow tulips, they are the feral dog which runs amok through the tulip bed, digging wildly in pure joy at destruction and damaging everything, regardless of colour. Dogs are colour-blind.

Maybe it's a poor analogy, maybe I'm just feeling jaded that we have such kids in our society, caused by poor parenting an a system which has failed to intervene when it should have. I've watched so many of these kids grow up, it makes me sad when I know what might have been in some cases, and what has been sabotaged from the beginning in others.