A very belated Happy Birthday to our funny, sunny 13 year old!
This is extremely late. Hard to believe Nick turned 13 two weeks ago already. I had intended to get this up much earlier but time just has a way of getting away from me. I want to give Nick his props because he is my hero. I met Nick when he was 22 months old. It was love at first site for both of us. Ed had Nick every other weekend and for time in the summer and during holidays so we made the most of our time. Nick was this little bundle of bustling energy with these huge brown eyes. He was sweet and cuddly and loved to be hugged and cuddled. I remember Nick always saying "pickee up, pickee up" and indeed he would spend most of his time on my hip. This cuddly little bug and I had loads of fun playing, shopping and having "book festivals" (me reading and Nick listening - his favourite books were Katy and the Snowstorm, Blueberries for Sal and any Dr. Seuss book). Nick's favourite movies when he was three were "Beauty and the Beast," "All Dogs go to Heaven" and "Farmtastics" (the ultimate movie about John Deere - it actually got stuck in the VCR it was played so many times and we had to have it surgically removed). He cried during The Hunchback of Notre Dame (this kid has a deep soul). We always had so much fun and I always had a difficult time believing that his biological mom never cuddled or played with him. He was this absolute cutie patootie. When Nick was 5 and 1/2 he was abducted by his biological mom(parental abduction is becoming so much more common). The judge ruled it "surreptious removal (which of course meant his mom wouldn't get charged)," but Nick experienced it as a kidnapping. It was a terrifying experience for Nick. The next 3 years involved us having lawyers in two different provinces and fighting for custody of Nick. We wouldn't have fought so hard for custody if Nick was happy and safe but his biological mother was abusive and cruel and with the help of husband #3 psychologically terrorized him and physically abused him. The sunny boy we had known became so changed and sad and hopeless. Several times he tried to hurt himself and was overheard on more than one occasion by teachers saying he wished he could die. It was, needless to say such a dark time for us. I had become sick, my sister had died and we never knew if Nick was going to survive another day. Prior to becoming sick I worked as a psychotherapist primarily with traumatized kids so I had some inkling to the damage Nick was experiencing. Nick is such a survivor though. He had this fantastic fantasy life and we had 45 minute phone calls every other night that he worked so hard to make the most of. It is so hard to comfort a child who is in pain, fear and despair. Nick finally came to live with us when he was 8 (it took 3 years in this crappy system that has no compassion or understanding of the lives of children) and slowly but steadily he has flourished. He learned to skate at 8 (his mom would not let him skate or take part in other activities) and he showed serious pluck. Last year he won an award for the best attitude in the United Counties Hockey League and this year he made the rep team and won an award for Most Improved Player. After not being able to read or write well (survival tends to take up a lot of time and energy) Nick has become an avid reader, far beyond his Grade level and his writing is creative and imaginative. He slept in our bedroom for the first year and a half after he came to live with us (fears of being taken again) but slowly his fears are becoming less and the laughter and joy are taking it's place. He has such strength, courage and determination. Nick has a will to live that impresses me. Nick plays the piano, the guitar, sings and took part in a community drama show last fall. He has a great sense of humour and wit and he loves to cook. We have worked to love our little boy believing that love heals so much. We have nutured his soul and his imagination; he is my renaissance boy. He has learned how to cross stitch and knit (although trucks, tractors and cars remain his first passion). And he loves hand knits! We are grateful for the opportunity to take care of Nick and appreciate every day he is with us. Nick had a great birthday! He got some great gifts (his favorite was the remote control Air Hog from Ed and I, the sweet set of golf clubs from my mom and dad, and the Detroit Red Wings - his favourite team - jersey he got from Carole). We went to his favourite Thai restaurant and then he went for a four day sleep-over at Sheree's. When he knew I would be blogging about his birthday he said it would be great if I could advertise for a toy drive for him (did I mention how cheeky this kid is??); he has been watching all these parcels and things arriving for Gracie. While I reminded him that this is so not the point, I did tell him I would work on a travel itinerary for him ( he already wants to go to Christy's) - so no gifts for Nick but if you would be willing to have him come and stay with you let him know (and where you live) and he can get excited about how popular he is and all the travels he can enjoy in the future. He is quite an adventurer and he will eat anything (and I am so serious about this - when we went to Newfoundland a couple of years ago he loved dining on cod cheeks and tongues and was truly disappointed that he wasn't able to indulge in Seal Flipper Pie. Yuk! He eats every kind of vegetable; he is not that keen on Swiss Chard tough. We love our spuba and we wish him a super duper 13th year!