Feature Stories

Higher, Take me Higher

When a youngster experiences life as it should be, she can enjoy the fresh air of opportunity and the sunshine of promise. But, as we all know, there’s another side: the youngster that struggles. He cannot go outdoors and into the fresh air and sunshine because he’s lost his way out of the basement.

He needs our help, he needs a way, and he needs a hand. I’ll come back to that.

Two Jobs

Milton Wright was a good man with two very important jobs. One was that of Bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. His other job was that of caring for his terminally ill wife and their three youngest children, two boys and a girl. The loss of his wife thrust him into the role and responsibility of a single parent. Still, by all accounts, he fulfilled both roles admirably.

One day Bishop Wright returned home from some church-related travels to give his very curious sons a flying toy made from bamboo, cork and paper. Today, we can buy a ticket and ride the skies on the power of the curiosity of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

As word spread of the success of the Wright brothers in achieving heavier-than-air, manned, powered and controlled flight, Wilbur and Orville returned from well-attended demonstrations in Europe to establish their company in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. They loved Dayton; Dayton loved them back. The brothers shared the joy of flight with those that had faithfully supported them through some long and trying challenges.

One More Passenger

But one special passenger remained to receive his airplane ride: Bishop Wright, Wilbur, Orville and Katharine’s father. Orville took Dad to the air for an experience that turned out to be the Bishop’s one and only flight.

After the ride, reporters were anxious to ask Orville about Bishop Wright’s reaction to his seven-minutes above Hufman Prairie. Orville shared that, other than a few gasps of “Wow!” the only thing he heard his 82-year-old father say was, “Higher, Orville, higher!”

So, whenever you offer that encouragement and a hand to lift a youngster that’s been too long in the “basement,” take a moment to listen carefully. You just might hear something that sounds a lot like what Bishop Wright said more than a century ago:

“Higher… take me higher!”

A semi-retired child and adolescent psychologist and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child, as well as other books and articles. He also founded The Changing Behavior Network, an early internet podcast and blog supporting young people and their families. You can visit his blog at Itsaboutthem.wordpress.com.

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