Elijah is not happy when he arrives at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s at dinner time. Adult dinner-time, not his! Elijah still eats every two hours, all day, all night.
He hates his car seat.
He yells and screams at Mom for the 20-minute drive from Mom’s to his Grandparents’ home in Chaska.
The conversation begins while removing the straps of his straitjacket.
“Elijah, Mom needs you to be quiet when she’s driving. You need to be more respectful. Mom has needs, too.”
“No she doesn’t! Mom’s a warden! I hate that cell!!!”
“No, Mom loves you! She’s not a warden; the car is not a prison; and your car seat is nothing like a prison cell.”
“Uh-huh!!! I thought you were my friend! You’re just like Mom! You don’t care about me. You think I’m just a thing, like my car seat. I’m not coming here anymore.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way. Do you want me to get you out of your car seat or not?”
“No! I’m staying here just like Martin Sostre did in solitary confinement because he refused to submit to the warden’s rules.”
“Well, Martin’s case was altogether different. Martin was a political prisoner at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Chaska’s a long way from Dannemora.”
“You loved Martin more than you love me, and Martin wasn’t even your grandson!”
“Well, there’s a big difference between you and Martin. Martin was a man of courage. He didn’t scream and yell. He didn’t cry. Martin didn’t terrorize his mother.”
“You care more about people who aren’t members of the family than you do about me! That’s not right! Martin was a criminal. I’m a prisoner, but I’m no criminal.”
“Elijah, there’s a big difference. Martin was an adult. He wasn’t in solitary for his own safety. He was put there to humiliate him. Mom puts you in your car seat to keep you safe.”
“Uh-huh! And because she’s enforcing the law! Mom’s a warden and you’re a guard! How come you won’t help me! I’m your grandson! I’m gonna go on a hunger strike!”
“Well, okay. But remember. If you go on a hunger strike, you’ll still get strapped in your car seat. The only things a hunger strike would change are you’ll make Mom happy ’cause she doesn’t have to feed you every two hours . . . and you’re going to starve.”
“That’s not fair!””
“No, it’s not, Elijah. Life’s not fair. As my old football coach used to say, ‘Life is tough! You must learn to adjust.”
“Not in my car seat!”
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 1, 2017.