I got Sparky and Roo off to school and still had baking and cleaning to do. I’d worked on Roo’s first grade costume the night before for his Thanksgiving program and had fallen behind. He had his choice of being a Pilgrim or an Indian, and he had chosen to be a Pilgrim. I had to head over to the school that afternoon to join in the fun and see their program.
I had the pumpkin pies in the oven when the phone rang.
“Yes,” I said, hot pad in hand.
“This is your son’s teacher.”
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
She sighed. “Has something traumatic happened to your son?”
“What do you mean?”
“We were practicing our Thanksgiving program and he went…berserk. He’s crying, and we can’t calm him down. You’ll have to come and get him.”
“Seriously? What about the program?”
“Honestly, I, the principal, and the counselor think it would be best for everyone if you take him home. He’s beating up all the Indians.”
My mouth hung open. The timer went off for the pies.
“I’ll…I’ll be right there.”
I quickly pulled the pies out of the oven and set them on the cooling rack. What had gotten into Roo? He’d never hurt anyone before. Beating up the Indians? I drove to school, shaking my head. I thought I would go inside and talk with the counselor, but when I pulled up in front of the school, Roo and his teacher were outside.
Tears rolled down little Roo’s cheeks. What could have upset him like this?
He climbed up in the truck and hugged me, snot and tears running everywhere.
“Have a…good Thanksgiving,” his teacher said, turning and leaving.
I grabbed some tissues from the glove box and wiped his face.
“Now just what has you so upset, little man?” I asked, looking at him in his cute costume.
The tears poured again. I couldn’t make out a single word he said. I finished the drive home, pulled him into my arms and headed into the house. After more tissues and a glass of water, he finally calmed down again.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.
His little chin quivered. I tried to take off his hat, but he wouldn’t let me.
He sniffed. “Pilgrims are like cowboys, aren’t they, Mommy?” he asked.
My brow furrowed. What was he talking about? “Yeeesss. I guess so,” I said.
“Those Indians were saying really bad things about the Pilgrims. That’s the same as saying really bad things about cowboys, and Uncle Randy was a cowboy.” Tears sprung to his eyes again.
He wrapped his arms around me and sobbed.
Stunned and shocked, I hugged him back, trying not to burst into full sobs myself. Roo had adored my brother, Randy, who lived on a farm, rode horses, and wore a cowboy hat and boots. Roo had done everything his uncle did, including only taking off his hat at the dinner table when Uncle Randy did.
My brother died at the age of forty-nine when Roo was only two years old—over four years before that day. How did Roo even remember him? How could the bond between them be so strong?
It was not the last time little Roo broke down over the loss of his Uncle Randy. The issues of traumatic incidences came up repeatedly with future autism therapists and usually culminated into a discussion about his loss of his uncle.
That Thanksgiving, as we said what we were thankful for, Roo smiled.
“I’m thankful,” he began, “for my mommy, my daddy, my brother and my Uncle Randy.” He took off his cowboy hat and dug into a slice of ham.
Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at: http://www.dragonflyromance.com
Copyright of Roo and Uncle Randy photo: Cindy A. Christiansen