Monday, November 26, 2012
I've never taken the kids to our town's big deal Thanksgiving Parade. If I'd gone as a child I have no memory of it.
And considering where we live? This is shameful of me.
The kids have had their heads stuffed with all things Thanksgiving, with emphasis on the Pilgrims and the first ever Thanksgiving. They feel proud and special to have this history in their back yard.
So we went.
With a few thousand other folks.
We found a patch of grass on the hill there on the left, ate some quesadillas (just like the Pilgrims did), and waited for the parade to start.
I offered up Thanks that the children were sufficiently excited as to ward off impatient whining.
I Thanked myself for not inflicting great bodily harm on the douchebag sitting behind Owen who thought it would be funny to sneak up behind said Deaf kid and throw his hood on his head. Seriously. Some ass hole did that. I sweetly schooled him on what NOT to do to a Deaf person, while his embarrassed wife and kids listened intently.
And I wasn't at all surprised when a man stopped as he walked past, pointed at Owen and asked me in sign;
He turned to Owen and signed some more,
*How old?*, *Your name?*, *What grade?* and so on.
I hadn't noticed the child with him until the man was signing his goodbye and nice to meet you.
I'd assumed the man was Deaf until he called after the child and the child turned around;
And I clapped my hands so hard I thought I'd sprained my wrist.
I knew this kid.
Years ago, when Owen was in preschool, just a baby, a new boy came to the program.
Niklaus came from the Czech Republic. He had no hearing, no speech, and knew only a few Czech signs.
This beautiful little Deaf person had thick curls of blond hair almost to his rear end and the most intense icy blue eyes.
He thrived in his new signing environment and was using ASL signs within a week.
The staff were amazed at his progress and Owen would talk about his friend Nikki often.
When Kindergarten started, Owen came home sad and told me that Nikki wasn't at his school anymore. He'd asked his teacher and all we knew was that he'd gone to a different school.
And we never saw or heard from him again.
Until last Saturday, sitting on the green, rubbing my sore wrist;
"I know you! You're Niklaus!"
The father looked baffled as I frantically signed to Owen that this was his long lost friend Nikki.
When the information clicked into place, Owen's face exploded into joy. He'd remembered.
And after a few minutes, Nikki did too.
We spent the rest of the day with Nikki and his Dad Bryan.
The kids ran around the green, Owen checking in with me often to ask when Nikki could come to our house to play.
Bryan and I chatted comfortably; he lives right in town, Nikki is mainstreamed in the public school, but still knows and uses sign. He loves Karate. And books. And superheros. He plays the cello.
He has a hard time connecting with other kids, and could use a friend.
As luck would have it, Owen is in a similar boat.
So yesterday, the afternoon sailed by as the boys played in Nikki's room while Bryan filled me in on his fantastic voyage from the Czech republic. An unbelievable, heartbreaking, and triumphant story of survival.
Not unlike Owen's own tale.
I'm usually Thankful for the basic stuff this time of year; food, shelter, clothing, kids and family.
But this year I'm Thankfully indulging in the spectacle of these two boys, neither of whom should even be alive, whom the Universe saw fit to bring back together.