It was March of 2010. I took my daughter to the Pittsburgh Zoo. We’d been reading about polar bears, and she wanted to see one for real. The trip seemed like a good remedy for the many cold days we had been cooped up in the house. We’d been watching LOTS of Olympic hockey highlights and shows about kids coming up through the leagues – graduating from pond hockey to the “big time” in the ice palaces full of thunderous fans and rafters adorned with the jerseys of legendary players. We also watched “Miracle” which caused our little daughter to become a “USA” cheering hockey maniac – this produced some unexpected ramifications.
The trip also seemed like a good diversion to get our 3 year old daughter’s mind off the absence of her eldest brother, Joshua, who was away on a vacation to Vancouver to see the Olympics and the Para-Olympics. Josh was on a photographic adventure to capture rare photo opportunities and to see something he’d never seen before – he was following his wanderlust and inner artist. Josh Skyped with us daily and posted pictures from his trip on Facebook. All Naomi knew was her brother was somewhere in Canada and she wanted him back.
We were walking around the zoo, me and Naomi; you know – right near that underpass by the merry-go-round – where the street traffic passes overhead, and you walk under the traffic through a short tunnel? Anyway – I was pushing her empty jogging stroller and holding my tugging 3 year-old by the hand….but not tightly enough. Naomi spotted a handful of Canadian Hockey Jersey clad young men about ten yards ahead of us. With an unexpected power play, my little 3 year-old freed herself from my grasp, yelled “I’m on a breakaway” and took off running toward the infidels! She caught the one on the left smack in the back of his left knee causing him to buckle and fall into his young friend to his right – dominoes; They all fell down, lying there with an indignant 3 year-old towering above them. I’m really glad they were laughing. After offering apologies and receiving their guarantees of none required, we all collected ourselves and went our separate ways to the sound of laughing and applauding onlookers.
I’m sure my little girl was just extracting her “pound of flesh” from those Canadian hockey enemies who wore the Maple Leaf Flag; the flag she saw in the pictures from the land that had her brother. A potential international incident had been downplayed and no real harm had been done. We saw the polar bear, bought a polar bear stuffie at the zoo shop and returned home without assaulting any other hockey fans. Josh returned home a few days later, and all was well again.
Now, as I write this, we’re preparing to take our eldest to the train station in Pittsburgh. Josh is moving to Seattle to pursue a dream he tasted for the first time in 2010. He’s on a breakaway and Naomi will have to hug him and cheer from the stands as she watches him go. It’s a good thing Seattle doesn’t have an NHL team yet.
© 2014 Curt Savage Media