Nathin’s name was derived from the Hebrew verb נתן meaning “given.” The meaning of the name in Jewish culture could be rendered “God has given” or “God gave” and some books go as far as to say his name means “gracious gift from God.” What no one can argue with is that he is a gift. My Nathin is very tender-hearted which is belied by his ‘I don’t care very much’ attitude at times. He enjoys thought-provoking music, delicious food and mind-boggling facts. He appreciates quirky humour, outrageous memes and is lightly amused when his mom attempts to understand his complicated ways. He regularly slaughters holy cows – with a smile. He has incredible recall. If there’s something he’s interested in he can remember the most obscure facts. And sometimes even facts that distinctly qualify as “boring” for him, will still be shared with great enthusiasm. He is very sensitive, very intuitive, very curious and very hard-headed. You don’t need to Google if he says something is a fact. Trust me, it’s true. If he says he will do something, he will do it. Maybe not immediately or when you specifically want him to or even in the way that you want him to. But he WILL do it. You don’t need to remind him twice. (And if you do remind him, he will probably make you wait!)
Nathin doesn’t like to, but he will wholeheartedly admit that he made a mistake, and has no qualms apologising IF it has been irrefutably proven that he was in the wrong. But you better have your facts straight! When he was a child, he ‘sensed things’ – as an adult, he knows things. He is spiritual yet without religion, which bugs the hell out of many people (no pun intended – maybe.) He has a high pain tolerance, can be ridiculously funny and he is earnestly hurt when he is done wrong. He is understanding and gentle, yet firm when it comes to things that he doesn’t compromise on. He cannot stand unfairness yet is often treated so, as he is regularly misunderstood. He is a thinker and will turn things over and over in his mind, exploring details, hashing out facts from fiction and then do some more thinking. Sometimes he has the solution in his head, but forgets to share it with the rest of the world.
My son has had some tough situations in his life and has responded poorly to some and exceptionally to others. When precious few people considered anything good about him, he knew (and his mother knew) that he has everything that it takes, and then some. And that was proven and he was vindicated (and his mom with him.) Growing up, he was socially awkward and when he failed at social level he defaulted into gaming and some other crutches that he managed to let go of eventually. However, he still plays games, is a game master and a master at his game(s). His childhood involved a significant measure of victimization – something he unsuccessfully tried to hide from me. Society and f*** up teenagers (in this particular case I blame their parents) do not know how to handle ‘different’. They don’t know how to handle ‘highly intelligent’. They don’t know how to handle someone that is so much bigger and better and more wonderful and truthful than them, so they default to bullying, name calling and vicious slander. It feels like I failed him back then. That I didn’t make enough noise about his abuse. In fact, I know I failed him. It will haunt me forever.
Nathin astounds me and delights me and breaks my heart with his puppy dog eyes, gentle voice and warm hugs. He was my firstborn. My protégé. And the one that I made all my mistakes with. His brothers’ paths were made easy because of him. He took all the rap, the tongue lashings and the tears of a young mother and an immature grown-up who had to fake it till she makes it with the parenting thing. A young, inexperienced mother who suffered from severe postnatal depression – that was never diagnosed or treated and thus he bore the brunt of it, intentionally or not. He was unceremoniously set aside when his brother was born too early, everyone forgetting the fact that he was much more premature and fought many more setbacks as an ill infant because of it. He had to grow up overnight, because he was the ‘big brother’ now. How unfair to expect a 22-month old to be ‘big’. But I did and he was. He was potty trained and weaned a week before his brother’s early birth, and not once did he wet the bed or put a burden on us because he was sometimes ‘forgotten’ in all the hype of bringing a newborn home. High expectations were always put on Nathin and I am ashamed to say that he always over delivered. From Grade 1 to Matric he consistently and thoroughly produced exceptional results. When his laatlammetjie brother was a small baby in his Grade 8 year, he graciously changed nappies, made bottles, burped and shared naps with his baby brother. He was the most amazing, caring, loving big-brother and a true blessing to my adoring lastborn. (And today all the ‘practice’ makes perfect!)
As a young adult, his default was to defend himself verbally or intellectually, never physically. And he fought that fight hard. And won. I suspect the physical bullying hurt his heart more than his body. He was routinely and consistently condemned and punished for ‘fighting’ this intellectual fight. Today, he is still a fighter, and at times, still condemned for being one. Except for those who are glad that he has learned to fight in his own way and who appreciate it when he is on their side or doing the job when no one else wants to (or can.) Up to this day my son still has to fight some people to have the right to fight, because he’s different. And so, he does. He doesn’t keep quiet for anyone. He will be respectful if he has to, but he would much rather lose the popularity contest than compromise on truth and what is right. He will be the only one speaking up when things are wrong even if he is the only one taking a stand and subsequently ridiculed for doing so. But he will stand firm. Because that is how vehemently my son believes in what is right and wrong.
To say that I am proud will take away from the fact that he takes my breath away. Every mother is ‘proud’ of her children purely because of the fact that she’s a mother. So besides being the usual proud mother, I’m also pleased and delighted and thrilled to be his mom. I’m so happy that he ‘gets’ my sense of humour when precious few other people do. And I silently chuckle when conceited, overconfident, egotistical people see their asses with him when they underestimate his intelligence. Because that is one thing no person on this planet can argue with. Nathin’s intellectual equals are few and far between. I have met one other person who may slightly compare with him. But that’s about it. And no, it’s not because I’m his mother, it’s because it’s a fact. I wish he would display his cleverness more, but it’s like he has these wonderful secrets about himself that he has an inner chuckle about ever so often! He has excellent taste in women and his giggling, pouting peers don’t interest him. It takes the love of a mature, strong woman to keep his heart satisfied!
I stand in awe of this most amazing being that was birthed from my undeserving body. I am humbled and deeply thankful when I look at the man he has become despite my many, many faults and mistakes. And I’m infinitely, INFINITELY proud of him. And there is NOTHING he can ever do or say that will make me love him less. Nothing. And I am so very, very grateful that I know that he knows that. My firstborn. My unique, extraordinary son.
Roxanne & Nathin