There it was, a red fire hydrant in the middle of nowhere. Jonathan and I had decided to hike a portion of the Santa Fe Trail that Sunday afternoon. Along the way, Jonathan spotted a side trail leading up to some red rock cliffs and wanted to take it. Upward we trudged and before long we found a red fire hydrant nestled up against a thicket of scrub oak. Jonathan gasped and plunged ahead until he reached it.
How does this happen? How does Jonathan manage to find unexpected fire hydrants (among his favorite objects) along his way in life? Of course I explained to him that some developer must have high hopes of building in the area some day. Nonetheless, for Jonathan, this was one more spectacular find.
This event reminded me of several years ago when Jonathan communicated to me that he wanted to go to a different school than our neighborhood high school. This surprised me because he had always loved school. When he made this request, I remembered that years earlier I had jotted down information about a special residential school in a different state. I had placed it in a drawer and forgotten about it until that moment when Jonathan started communicating he wanted a change. After digging through the drawer, I found the information and called the school to find out more. Everything the school director told me sounded perfect for Jonathan.
So my husband and I took him to visit the school. At that time Jonathan had developed a fascination with fire hydrants and he had been begging all summer to open one. On the trip there, he kept asking us if the school would have them. Once we arrived, the first things we noticed as we drove onto the school grounds were several big green fire hydrants. We stopped the car, and Jonathan got out and started running around and jumping up and down in his excitement over them. When we met with the school director, Jonathan grabbed her hand and pulled her over to a fire hydrant. She smiled and asked, “Jonathan, do you like fire hydrants?” He squealed, “Yes!” Then she said, “Well, we use our fire hydrants to water our lawns, and we are in need of a man to open them for us.”
Jonathan errupted with excitement–and I cried. He was so happy. God had answered his prayers for fire hydrants. And my husband and I, who had been feeling emotionally torn about the thought of him moving away from home, finally knew he was in the right place.
After spending a few years at the school, Jonathan returned home.
He is older now.
He understands he can’t bring randomly found fire hydrants home with him or open them up to let the water spray at will (although he has recently visited a couple of fire stations where firemen let him hold the firehoses as they spewed their powerful blasts of water). But fire hydrants still get his attention. I think for Jonathan they represent those who can mitigate difficult situations and emergencies, people Jonathan would like most to emulate–along with doctors and pastors.
As we descended down the trail that Sunday afternoon, I found the sandy slope a bit slippery. And wouldn’t you know it, my shoes gave way and I tumbled, scraping my knee pretty badly. (I had hoped my days of scraped knees were long past). But as I rolled around on the ground moaning and holding my knee, Jonathan reached out for my hand and helped me back up.
I was touched by his gentle sympathy to my plight. It may seem a small thing–but it’s those small things that I’m noticing these days. Jonathan’s take away from the hike was his memory of finding the fire hydrant. Mine was discovering once again that Jonathan is a gentleman. And then, of course, there’s a small scar from my scraped knee.