Saturday, October 3, 2009


As a reward for an entire week of good behavior at school, I took Martin out for cookies and milk Friday afternoon. We went to the bakery downtown. Martin ordered a chocolate chip cookie for himself and for me. He thanked the cashier when she arrived with our snacks. As we left the bakery, he shouted goodbye to everyone in the store. We headed out into a chilly, rainy afternoon. I was planning to go straight home.

But Martin tugged on my sleeve and said, "Let's go to Barack H. Obama's White House." By that, he meant the Wayne County Court House that stood just a block away. Since we had no plans for the afternoon, so we walked over. "Do you think it's full of presidents?" Martin asked. Not sure how to explain that most of the presidents are dead and that none of them live in Wooster, I replied that we could look for them.

We entered the building, stepped through the metal detector, and saw three men talking together. One of them had signs of male pattern baldness. "Hello, Gerald R. Ford," Martin called out. We walked down the hallway to find a huge oil painting of General Wayne, the man our county is named after. "Oh," Martin sighed, "It's a president." Which one?" I asked. "Andrew Johnson, of course." I had to admit that Wayne looked more like Johnson than any other president I could think of.

We continued through the building. Martin gave me a guided tour. "There's George Washington's office," he said as we passed by the judge's chambers. "There's George W. Bush," he said as we walked by a middle-age white man. We walked by a woman and Martin wasn't sure what to say. I tried to tell him about Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary, but he didn't seem interested in those who didn't win the elections. As we walked out the door, Martin called out to the guards, "Thank you for looking at the White House." They seemed mystified, but smiled and waved.

My husband and I are always devising rewards for Martin. Prizes for good behavior, trying new things, or using the toilet. But I struggle when I realize that our reliance on rewards means that we are constantly pressing him to do things that are not comfortable for him. And if we relax a bit, if we let him lead us, he will take us places and give us little White House tours. It's like a reward he gives us for chilling out and letting him be.


  1. You are a wonderful mom.

  2. I still remember thinking that the principle of Buckley Community School was Ronald Reagan.

  3. If you all ever find yourselves in Ann Arbor, let me know! A close friend of mine works at the Gerald Ford Library/Museum and I am sure she could give Martin a special tour. There is even a replica of Ford's oval office :)