We go to a block party for July 4th. The entire street is blocked off and people rent many bouncy houses and inflatable water slides for the kids to play.
I need to go inside the house to use the restroom. I am removing my shoes, when a boy — maybe 11 or 12 years old — rushes past me and says something. I can’t understand what he is saying since I am not paying attention and he isn’t looking at me so I think he is speaking to someone else. I don’t think much of it, kids are running around all over the place, being rowdy and generally having a great time on the block.
Then the little girl closely behind him — maybe 8 or 9 but certainly younger — look at me and says, “I’m sorry.”
She is apologizing for him.
The boy has already run up the stairs. The little girl and I make our way into the house.
I say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what he said.”
The little girl is calling up the stairs, shouting her brother’s name. She begins to run up the stairs, but looks back at me and says, “he’s taking speech therapy.”
I say, “OK” but she’s already disappeared upstairs.
What am I going to say?
That I understand?
That she doesn’t have to apologize?
That I want to give her a big hug?
I am coming out of the restroom and I see them, the boy running out of the house in bare feet, forgetting his sandals. His sister putting on her sandals then chasing after him calling his name and that he needs to put on his shoes.
I take his sandals out of the house and watch his parents tell him to put on his shoes.
He runs up the drive way where I’m standing and I point to his sandals, which I’ve put on the ground.
“Here are your shoes, put them on,” I say to him.
He does, and I see his younger sister running up.
Is she here to facilitate?
To translate or explain?
To keep him safe?
He begins to sign at me while saying something that I can’t decipher.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know sign,” I say, wishing I know sign language.
I turn to the sister who is watching and ask her if she knows sign language.
She shakes her head no.
They run off and blend into the scattering crowd of children playing on the block.