Friday, February 18, 2011

Know Better, Do Better

Lately there have been numerous discussions between my nephew Nathan's Dad and I about his progress.  (To get some back story on Nathan, read thisthis or this.)  He has only lived with his father for about 2 and a half months now.  It has been a wonderful time of much healing and love for both my nephew and his father.  We all expected to see changes in Nathan, but never realized just how quickly they would come.  He already speaks noticeably more clearly, even through the phone.  His confidence is much improved.  I think we are all surprised by how much having his son living with him has changed my nephew's father as well.  There is new hope surrounding both of them.

Picture from the last time I took Nathan to the Newport Aquarium on the Oregon Coast

There are also signs that this is going to be a long haul.  It is apparent that Nathan has never had anyone sit down and do homework with him.  Heck, he doesn't even remember to use utensils to eat his food all the time.  (He prefers his hands.  He is nine.)  He has acted out aggressively at school on several occasions.  He has verbalized that he is worried about having to go back to live with his mother.  He says, "I never wanted to be there."
But Dad is working diligently with the school and a really good councilor who sees how intelligent Nathan is and knows that his real issues are all personal and social.  (She called to get more family history on my sister, Nathan's mother, and I could tell she really gets the situation.)  Dad has been volunteering in Nathan's classroom every week.  He makes sure Nathan gets plenty of exercise and sleep.  Nathan has been taken for full check-ups at the doctor, optometrist and dentist.  The dentist said it was obvious that Nathan had never had his teeth cleaned before.  The poor kid had to have deep cleaning with the gas over several days.  (Nathan's mother had him on state medical and could have had this done for free.)    He got a couple of cavities filled too.
Even as Nathan's Dad and I have discussed the progress and how amazing it has been, we have both been plagued by guilt.  How could things have gotten this bad without any of us really noticing?  There are several behaviors that Nathan displayed over the years that were never normal for his age.  Somehow we just bought the idea that he was 'a little behind'.  Nathan's Dad and I are both ashamed of ourselves.  Loving him and hoping that things would change were just not enough.  Fear and drama got in the way of what this boy really needed.  
By the time we realized all of this, it took nearly 2 years to get him out of the hell he was living in.  Anyone who has read any of the other stuff I have written about Nathan knows how much I really do love this kid.  I won't beat up on myself too harshly, but I will say that I am sorry and really mean it.  Now that I know better, I will do better.  I promise. 


  1. I am so glad your nephew is now in a good and healthy home with his dad. I will keep them in my prayers.
    You both should not feel guilty for not noticing sooner, that can't be changed, but be glad that you have done something and now your nephew has a chance at a great life.

    Sounds like he has a great dad and aunt to take care of him now!

  2. You have no power in the past. There is no point in kicking yourself about it. There is good in knowing what the signs look like so that if you ever see them again, you recognize what you are looking at. That is important. That is the lesson. Other than that, just being there for your nephew and his father is your best. No one expects more than that. No one can give more than that.

  3. @ Amber & Robin-
    Thanks so much for the support. You guys know what this little guy means to me. I do see that now is the time to focus on a positive future!


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