Nick, the youngest in our brood of five, turned double digits this week! We celebrated at our local rollerskating rink.
To introduce Nick, I chose a variety of different effects of visuals from his birthday party Wednesday. Nick is a guy who can’t be easily pinned down – his world often comes in a blurry flurry.
There’s just so much to this kid. He’s exuberant, for one. Life is far from dull for Nick and those in his life.
And he tends to draw people who share his exuberance, like these two dear friends of his.
Most of us in this family tend toward the introverted end.
Not Nick. He’s the most extroverted of the seven of us.
Admittedly, this exhausts us at times, but his gifts also tend to draw us out, which is something we need.
He’s creative, smart, curious, thoughtful, sensitive, compassionate.
Not long ago, his sister gave him a slingshot. Nick was all set to go out and try it on some birds, until he thought about it and realized those birds might be some little birdies’ papas. He wanted a moving target but he wasn’t willing to hurt something that might be important to something else.
But I will tell you, too, that sometimes, in his exuberance, in his delight of life, Nick can go off course, and a few months ago, this started happening to Nick. He made some poor choices, and necessarily those poor choices drew attention, which led to more poor choices, and more beyond that.
Before we could step in as parents, the train wreck was already on the horizon. It was an awful time for us. We felt powerless in moments, deeply sad in others, and definitely concerned and confused.
As I tried to sift through all of this, I had Nick in my heart and I knew that part of the reason things were going off kilter was because Nick was being drawn into a channel of negative energy. And because Nick has always been sensitive to the energy around him, he was highly vulnerable to going down the wrong path. And that was in fact happening. As a parent, that’s scary to watch. You know that those moments can change the course of a life.
Watching this go down grieved me because I know Nick’s potential. And I knew he was caught in a whirlwind that, though it was part his making, it was also part the making of others, and I had to step in and do something to help change the direction of that little tornado.
It was an excruciating couple of weeks, but finally, through God’s grace, plenty of prayer and some good counsel, we were able to help release Nick from the negative whirlwind and send him spinning again in a positive direction; a direction that accentuated the positives to get positive results.
His teacher has been a great help. Because of the earlier slew of negative reports, she began zeroing in on positive actions and sending weekly updates. Her written testimonies fill my heart with hope, and I believe that what she’s observing in these small things represents the true Nick, the Nick I know who really wants to to do good, if only people around him will notice.
Her latest report:
- On his way in from recess, Nick noticed one of the social skills hallway posters on the ground and went out of his way to return it to its place on the wall.
- He may have been a bit bummed to not showcase an invention this year, but I was so impressed by the way shared in the fun of the day, designating himself the “cheerleader” for inventors and helping them transport their display boards and inventions to and from the gym.
- He asked insightful questions of his classmates during our last round of book presentations. See if he remembers the Mozart question he’d asked, in particular. It was obvious he’d been tuned in to the presenter and it was neat to hear the higher level question he posed.
- Nick’s eagerness to participate is a neat thing to witness. Whether during the Q and A of whole-class lessons or when volunteers are sought to share their writing from the author’s chair, Nick’s hand is often enthusiastically raised.
Lord knows, Nick still has a long way to go. His strong emotions can go awry without a lot of support. Life will continue to prove interesting and challenging for Nick, because however he lives it, he’s bound to live it big. Big happy, big love, big joy, and when it happens, big disappointment and big sadness, too.
But like God does, I see the great potential. And I need these reminders from his teacher of what he’s doing well, so I can stay encouraged and, in turn, be encouraging. Nick has a lot to teach me in terms of my own patience and making a point to notice the positive in others above all else.
We watched things nearly fall apart for this kid this year, and thanks be to God, we also watched much of the messy sort back out and become more even again. Like my mother-in-law said the other day, about a different situation but it applies here as well, “Wherever God is, there is hope.”
Q4U: When did a positive comment make all the difference in your life?