A blind boy was playing on a swing set in his backyard, when he heard someone getting on the swing next to him. “Squeak, Squeak,” the chains sang, arching through its swing. A voice spoke up, “Hi, my name is Jonnie. ”
“Hi,” said the blind boy, “my name is Timmy. Where do you live?”
The two boys talked back and forth. Timmy reached out and grabbed the chain of the other swing. “Hey, don’t do that! You are going to make me go crooked!” Jonnie protested.
“Sorry. Sometimes I like to get both swings going the same.” Timmy said in explanation.
After a while, “I’ve got to leave. I’ll be back.” said Jonnie, jumping from the still moving swing, landing, and running off.
Later at dinner Timmy’s father asked, “What did you do today, son?”
“I made a new friend this afternoon and played with him. His name is Jonnie.”
Timmy’s mother spoke up. “Oh, you must have a new imaginary friend. I looked out the kitchen window and saw you on the swings but I didn’t see anyone with you.”
Timmy felt puzzled, a little hurt at his mother’s tone. He wondered why he would be doubted; he remembered the boy! Still, all he said was, “Oh, Mom.”
“Oh, you two…” The father said. His tone was clear. He was not taking sides, yet wanted to be supportive to the both of them. Meanwhile, in his inner thoughts, a part of his mind he didn’t dare share, he worried it might be the first occurrence of a supernatural event. He hadn’t ever told his wife that at the time they bought their home, he had heard rumors about the house next door being haunted. The couple that used to live there, that built it, had lost their only child-- murdered in the back yard, playing on his swing-set! The father thought they had said the boy was about eight. Maybe the stories were true…
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Guess we will need to wait and see if a second installment comes out on this one. Any one of the three perspectives could be real. The impact upon this impressionable young blind person will depend upon which one is chosen.
**2. Interesting story. Of course, it's not really definitive enough to make a sound judgment one way or the other, as to whether this was a supernatural occurrence, or whether Timmy's mother just didn't see the other boy because she looked out before he got there, or after he left/ As the story indicates that Timmy was swinging before Johnny got there and was still swinging after he left. So the mother may have just missed him. On the other hand, I do have very reliable reports from my sister-in-law and the rest of her family that's old enough to remember, that they had a spirit in an old house that they lived in, that used to help her take care of her young children by turning lights on and off, and things like that. The young girls were the first to tell her about the nice lady who turned on/off the light for them. But over time the whole family became aware of "her" presence. So, I do believe that spirits do visit people at times for whatever reasons.
Community Development Specialist
Social Development Systems
Dallas, TX 75218
From the ACB-L list
**3. I always enjoy the thought provokers. Thank you for publishing them to the list.
It seems that two of the three perspectives teach dependency. One that the blind boy couldn't possibly have a new friend because I did not see him.
The other perspective discounts the blind boy's understanding of the reality of meeting a new friend in the back yard. but doesn't go so far as to challenge the statement.
The perspective from the blind boy seems to be one of excitement that he has a new friend to play with.
If I were one of the parents, I think I would want to pursue the issue of the new friend. I would want to know more about him. Then, I would want to see if my blind child and the new friend were compatible enough to be playmates.
It's all hypothetical and so are my answers since the only blind or visually impaired person in my life was myself at the age of 44 years.
I would hope to expose my child to the good and bad of the sighted world. It would be important to me to ensure that my child could listen, evaluate and interact with people and situations that are out there in that big new world that we all have to be initiated into. You can read or be read to. You can have someone explain the situations in life to you. They can tell you how they acted under similar issues or tell you what the "book" says is the way to react to those issues. However, you never know what or how you may feel when confronted with those issues until it happens.
I say, let's find the new friend, if we can, and invite him to play. It sounds like the beginning of a life's lesson, probably, for both the blind boy and the new friend.
Further, imaginary friends are the enjoyment of many children. They often are an opportunity to pretend social interaction. I'm sure that many skills are learned by children with imaginary friends. JUST DON'T KEEP THEM ALL YOUR LIFE! REPLACE THEM WITH REAL FRIENDS.
Spirits, Angels, evil spirits. They are discussed in many, many books, including the Bible.
Max Hearn From the ACB-L list
**4. What's the significance of the boy on the swing being blind? Is it that a sighted eight-year-old would know that his imaginary friend isn't really there? That misses the whole point of an imaginary friend. You'd have just as hard a time convincing a sighted Big Bird that Snuffalufagus isn't really there than you would a blind Big Bird. To put it another way, Big Bird doesn't have an easier time convincing us that Snuffalufagus IS there than he would if he were blind.
When I get around to selling my house, I guess I won't have to tell anyone it's haunted because they won't believe me anyway. Hmm. What else can we blind folks get away with?
Abby, Vincent From ACB-L list
**5. Not sure what this one's all about. I don't suppose people who are blind are affected any more by the supernatural than anybody else, no matter what the myths say.
Ann Parsons From Blindfam list
**6. The power of the human mind when it comes to suggestion is incredible. There have been people whom have been hypnotized and told they were being whipped and they actually developed welts on them even though no one actually touched them.
Frank From Blind-X list
**7. what does the boy's being blind have to do with the house being haunted or a dead boy haunting the swings. This story is as easily told with a sighted kid who described the "ghost," to his parents later. what does being blind have to do with it? Mark Baxter From BlindLaw list
**8. I could be wrong, but here's what I think Robert is going for here. The mother automatically assumes that Timmy has imagined his new playmate, since she could not see him. The father, on the other hand, assumes his son is telling the truth and wonders if the explanation could be that Johnnie is the ghost of the murdered child. Could the mother's assumption be based on her son's blindness?
Chris Daneilsen From BlindLaw list
**9. As to the story below, too far-fetched, too television, sightings, whatever. I personally don't believe in ghosts, although I do believe in supernatural intervention in our lives of another kind.
Could be that Mom wasn't looking out the window at the right time to see Jonnie. He didn't stay very long.
My question is: How is this story related to dealing with blindness issues?
In any case, thank you for provoking all of us to think which issues really have to do with blindness, or just plain every day life.
**10. I am a bit disappointed by this Thought Provoker, as it reminds me of an episode of "Medium" that was screened here a few weeks back. The paranormal doesn't / shouldn't have anything to do with the fact that we are Blind. To me this thought provoker was disappointing because it didn't make me question my thoughts about blindness at all, rather just left me going, so what... the mother doesn't believe her child (who could have been sighted, it would have made no difference), the family is screwed up because the father won't share his feelings with his family and the mother is a cow for being so rude to her son, so what if his friend was imaginary.... it was real to him... time to get that Dubois woman to do a meeting between them all and send the boy next door back off to heaven and leave the son with no friends (oh hang on that was her daughter that ended up with no friends... oops)
Penny From the NFB National Organization of Blind Educators list
**11. This story reminds me a little bit of the blind men and the elephant, only in reverse. Each parent acts on the piece of information they possess. Mom saw her son swinging alone and decides he is imagining a friend. This suggests a concern on her part that her son is unable to make friends in their neighborhood because he is blind. She is wary of any sign that his blindness is making him "different". She probably has many unspoken concerns about raising a blind child, and does not have anyone to turn to. Especially not her husband. Dad deals with the situation by refusing to deal with the situation. He side steps his wife's concern by coming up with an "off the wall" story about a ghost. Perhaps he is hiding from a feeling of guilt. Believing that he has produced a flawed son. He can't quite come forward and openly blame his wife and her family for this flawed child, and he certainly doesn't want the finger pointing toward himself or his family...especially his mother. So he creates a straw man. Notice that neither parent talks with their son. They send him a message that they do not care about what he does or thinks. Very probably these parents are in the process of raising a mess. This young boy will grow up never knowing why he has a deep feeling that his parents don't truly love him. They will tell him they love him, but his life will be full of these quiet little lessons, telling him that he is being pushed away from the real love he needs.
Carl Jarvis From ACB-L list
12. How cool, a ghost story!!! I believe it shows how open Timmy is to be able to perceive the presence of a spirit. Of course, the mother may have missed seeing an actual boy playing with her son. Anyhow, children, blind or sighted, are often more sensitive to feeling the presence of other beings than adults. Since I have encountered ghosts in my parent's, very old home, I do believe they exist.
Marcia Beare, Martin, Michigan, USA
**13. This scenario could have been taken straight out of a circa 1960 TV series called "ONE STEP BEYOND that I often watched as an early adolescent. I'm rediscovering it now because it's reappearing on DVD--sorry, no video description. There were episodes in which sighted kids had similar experiences, and their parents blew them off in much the same way.
Cheers, Jhon Huffman From ACB-L list
**14. Another thing to think about is that, perhaps the friend never new that the boy was blind. He came and sat down beside and pointed at his house over there.
How many times have we blind had an encounter when another didn't notice that we had a handicap. Isn't it nice and doesn't it make us warm and fuzzy inside. Perhaps, it was just too normal to believe.
**15. I think a lot of times, because we are blind, we are doubted. In my case, I know Orlando FL pretty well and can usually give cab drivers and paratransit drivers good directions how to get from point A to point B. However, most of the time, they don't listen feeling that because I am blind, i do not know where I am going.
I find this provoker a little puzzling as I don't really get what it is trying to illustrate. Perhaps the father should have been more vocal in support of his son. However, many children do have imaginary friends and if the supernatural approach is to be accepted, then the father's theory could have been correct. It will be interesting to hear other's comments.
Sherri from Orlando
**16. What does this have to do with blindness? Because a little neighbor boy came to play in Timmy's backyard. When I was younger the neighborhood kids did that too. I remember making up imaginary friends. I was a lonely kid. And believe me, the conversations were totally one sided, the my invisible pals never answered back verbally.
**18. This looks like another good novel beginning as the one about the blinded space crew. I love horror and this story makes me think more about gruesome things than philosophies about blindness. Like, how would a kid be murdered on a swing set? Was he hung from the chains like a gallows or what? It does bring up the situation of sighted people not believing blind people when they disagree though, the sighted person taking offensive and assuming they must be right against what they perceive to be a silly blind person with a warped sense of reality but it seems like it is more of a normal adult vs. child struggle in this instance though. This really could be a good horror story with a normal blind main character.
**19. Well, there are far worse things than a kid with imagination, a mom with too much common sense and a dad with too little grip on reality.
**20. I'd like to see a blind boy with an Imaginary friend. I can picture what some of the reactions may be, my favorite being, “What, you have a friend that you can’t see?” Or, as in this scenario, “Mommy, if a ghost is invisible and if I am blind, but we can talk and play, isn’t he real to me?” Or the father might say, “Hmm, I wonder if the ghost knew my son was blind; did it care?”
Mary Perrie USA
**21. Reading the narrative through the first time, the first thing I thought of was my mother. Whenever I would tell her my speculations about something or an event I witnessed or got drug into, she would outright tell me that I was being melodramatic, or it was all a figment of my imagination. It would not be until she heard through the grapevine or she researched my story for herself that she would learn that what I was telling her was true. Reading it through the second time, however, I saw something totally different. Perhaps the house next-door was haunted. I do believe that there are roaming spirits that came from people who died violently. In one of the apartment buildings I lived in, I would hear strange noises that I couldn't even totally describe in words. All I can explain is that there were strange, but eerie, creaking sounds in the walls, but even just this description is not enough to explain it all. One would have to hear the sounds. It is possible that Timmy was met by Jonnie's ghost; thus, Timmy's mother not believing his story. On the other hand, it is possible that actual people who have a son named Jonnie did move in, and Timmy's parents had not realized this. Jonnie's family could've moved in the middle of the night before while everyone else was sleeping. Thus, it is possible that an actual child named Jonnie did come over to visit with Timmy but that he left Timmy's backyard before Timmy's parents actually saw him on the empty swing. Of course, there is always the possibility that the next-door house is haunted, but that a family had just moved in anyway, not knowing, or believing, that it was haunted. All this is not to say, of course, that Timmy may not have had an imaginary friend named Jonnie. After all, some kids do come up with fairytales similar to the ones they may have heard when they were much younger. If Timmy has been known to come up with all kinds of stories that turned out not to be true, then I can see why his mother had the attitude she had. Even if Timmy's dad had told the mother about the next-door house being haunted, who says that she would even believe her own husband? There's no telling on that one. As it is said, "anything is possible".
**22. Wow, Robert, where are you off to now? Call me when you beam back down. Now I love the bizarre as much as anyone, I just wasn't expecting to find it here. Boo,
Jane Lansaw Omaha, NE USA
**23. Interesting post. I am blind and after I read the story, I felt chills *lol*... I guess the one scary part of being a blind child is you never can see what's really real. Scary movies and scary stories could just be a little more intense if you're blind. I never thought about this before. Very interesting provoker.
Andre Watson. Psy.D., Philadelphia, PA, Dr.Dre@verizon.net
**24. Logically, the mother wasn't looking out the window the whole time. The other child wasn't there long and she just missed it. I think that too often sighted people doubt our observations of what is going on around us. Police and other authorities don't believe our statements as to what has taken place and who did or said what. As to supernatural events, it generally requires a sensitivity to them to manifest and if the child had never experienced anything before, it isn't that likely. Unless of course his mother's reference to imaginary play mates reflects her interpretation of other occurrences in his earlier life. There is at least one blind woman who earns her living as a psychic and I doubt vision has much to do with talents in that direction if they are going to exist.
**24 Logically, the mother wasn't looking out the window the whole time. The other child wasn't there long and she just missed it. I think that too often sighted people doubt our observations of what is going on around us. Police and other authorities don't believe our statements as to what has taken place and who did or said what. As to supernatural events, it generally requires a sensitivity to them to manifest and if the child had never experienced anything before, it isn't that likely. Unless of course his mother's reference to imaginary play mates reflects her interpretation of other occurrences in his earlier life. There is at least one blind woman who earns her living as a psychic and I doubt vision has much to do with talents in that direction if they are going to exist.
Deanna Quietwater USA