Some parents say their kid acts/looks/seems older than they actually are. That may or may not be true, but for Nick, it is one hundred percent accurate. I know you're dying to know why, so let me relieve your anxiety.
Let's start with his stature. While born on the smaller side, it took less than a year for him to break into the 90th percentile, and upon reaching that status, has yet to leave it. He's definitely a "big" kid and while there are many, many boys and girls who are skinnier than he is, we're not concerned. For one, he never stops playing hard and as a result never stops sweating so again, we're not concerned. He and I were picking up dinner for Katy on her birthday back in May and the cashier said hi to him. He replied back with hi. She asked his name. He said Nick. She asked him how old he was. He replied, "I'm five...I weigh 62 pounds." As the girl was placing her eyeballs back in their sockets she stammered, "But I'm only 85 pounds and I'm 19!" Granted, she was maybe, MAYBE, four foot eleven. Still. That's my boy. Blowing people away.
The same is true of his height, reading ability, intelligence, strength, hand-to-eye coordination, and many other traits. All are beyond what we thought it should be for his age. He's one of the most polite boys we know, a sensitive soul, and in love with anyone who will play board games with him.
There is a flip side to this huggable cuddly boy. He is a sinner. He can lie, disobey, stall, disrespect, and sneak with the best of them. He exceeded our expectations of these as well in that for each sin that manifested itself, we thought he was way too young to display those tendencies. But in this matter, he is exactly like all of us. Way ahead in our ability to sin than we should be. Exploring and testing the boundaries of our Father's patience and tolerance daily on an exponential level. Are we surprised by his ability to violate God's law? Absolutely! But not because he's able to do it, just that it points to our own sin so vividly in both dealing with it and displaying the traits he inherited from both of us. Again, breaking all of our expectations about himself and inadvertently showing us our own in the process.
The most important and heart-wrenching way in which he's older than we feel he should be, has been emotionally. In the few short years he's had on this earth, he's seen his dog Lucy bolt between his legs as he accidentally left the front door open, only to be in the car when his mom discovered Lucy's broken and twitching body up the street. He has and is enduring his new dog Hobbes scratch, destroy, and tackle him.
He was placed in Kindergarten early out of necessity for the multiple births to come, conquered the accelerated program presented before him, only to be switched to a different school for the following term. His mother was put on bed rest and unable to help him with tasks he was so used to having help with. This boy, has lost three brothers. Two to a broken social system that caused him to believe it was his fault they were taken away. The other died a premature death in a hospital room five feet away from him. He was essentially an only child for five years with all the attention he could desire being paid to him by both his parents until both of them diverted their focus to two very needy infants. He's watched his parents cry night after night in the weeks that followed his brother's death, been to his own brother's memorial service, had to endure two sleep-deprived adults who have all too often neglected him or at the very least paid him a minute amount of attention compared to the previous five years. His trips to Disneyland went from almost monthly to virtually non-existent, as did park excursions, bike rides, and any other outside-the-house-fun-activity imaginable. All the while, all around him his friends have been gaining sibling after sibling, close enough in age to have an at-home friend and playmate. All in all, it has been a trying life so far for this little guy, and I'm sure in his little heart these are just the tip of the iceberg.
There have been times when the bewilderment on this boy's face has been emotionally overwhelming for Katy and I. And yet, at the same time, extremely frustrating as he's been trying to figure out how to cope with his own emotions by acting out or seeking our attention in ways we wish he wouldn't.
Realistically, I realize and understand that there are kids the world over that have been through infinitely worse than Nick has. But how much this kid can handle leaves us in awe. Through everything, he doesn't appear to hold any resentment toward us and, more importantly, absolutely zero toward his baby brothers. I would suggest there isn't a kid in the world who loves his siblings more than he does. He lets them pull, drool, slap, interfere, delay, and demolish his life. Yet every morning he sees them, every day after school, every time he has been outside for more than ten minutes and was able to forget about how they changed his life, the next moment they come into his peripheral, he has a grin from ear-to-ear and calls them by whatever nickname he's trying out for them at the time while gently grabbing their hands. If given the choice, he will put off almost anything for the opportunity to make them laugh or help us out with them. He is a GREAT big brother for "his babies" whom he has waited five years for.
I'm well aware of the possibility that all of this is temporal. But for the time being, I needed to document not to the world, but to our family, what we are witnessing in this little boy: a five-year-old who is years beyond his age in experience, emotion, and, with his brotherly interactions, maturity.
I could write all night about this kid, but after awhile I'm sure it becomes redundant and overly wordy if it isn't already. At the end of the day, what I've learned is my son's age can't be measured in earthly restrictions like years and days. My son's age is measured in the love he has in his heart for his parents, brothers, family, and Christ, and if that's the case, he is already an old soul.