Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. ~Napoleon Hill
Sometimes I forget how much our actions and unconscious decisions influence Kyle. Not to mention he is a bit of a habitual person. Example. It seems now Sunday nights have become our time to sit and read at my house. I mean no TV on, no distractions, just enjoyable reading time, squished in a chair in my living-room. Another Example. Going for a walk doesn’t generally mean going down the hill. It means traveling up the hill with the dogs for a walk through the woods. Another example. Me picking Kyle up during the week, means heading straight to swimming lessons, then to my house for dinner and work on homework before returning him. I’m sure there are many more scenarios, but I couldn’t help but notice that this has always been Kyle’s way.
Did you know that up until about a year or so ago, when we would make a trip to Giant Eagle for groceries, Kyle instantly thought of the Eagle’s Nest and playing in the kids room? That was his hang out. In fact, he would beg us to take him to Giant Eagle so he could play in the designated area, which was monitored and very safe so a parent didn’t have to worry while grocery shopping. All the workers knew him by name, even when they’d run into us locally, completely unrelated. Once my sister was home with Kyle, and she called me at work to say she doesn’t know what to do. You see, she didn’t need anything else at Giant Eagle but she was told, by one Mr. Kyle Piper, to take a long time in the store. Nicole’s solution, to call me at work since she was bored and didn’t want to rush Kyle. We still laugh about that one to this day! Giant Eagle did a great job with their Eagle’s Nest and their employees! Kyle has since outgrown the age whereas he is not permitted in the Eagle’s Nest, but I do see him checking out the room every-now-and-again.
While I’m thinking about it, I’m going to step back in time when Kyle was just a little guy. When he would play with his matchbox cars and Thomas the Tank train sets. Kyle had this blue metal truck that was slightly larger than a matchbox car. I don’t know where he got it, but he loved playing with that truck. Actually, that truck would always make its appearance on the sidelines of Kyle’s play activity, usually while playing with Thomas the Tank. He would specifically seek out the truck and have it sit there to watch all the other toys act out the imagination of Kyle. You see, when dad become sick and couldn’t work for a short period of time, dad would pick Kyle up every Thursday and we’d keep him throughout the weekend till Sunday night. Since I was in school during the day and mom was working, dad would spend all day Thursday and Friday with Kyle, who was still in his diapers. Wow! I can’t believe he has gotten so big! Anyway, one of their favorite pastimes was to go to Latrobe Airport and watch the planes take off and land. I know Kyle would look for the helicopter, since again he was a fan of Thomas the Tank. Harold the helicopter was a character on the show and Kyle just loved him. Ironically, dad and Kyle sat in dad’s blue truck watching the activity while the day flew past. What is really interesting about his weekly ritual, is the impact it had on Kyle. Even years later Kyle looked favorably on that little metal blue truck.
By the time Kyle was around three or four years old I got him a Finding Nemo toy cell phone. He always loved my phone so I thought he might like his own. One time when I was driving and he was in the backseat, at the time in his car seat, he opened his Nemo phone and started talking. I laughed so hard listening to him have an imaginary conversation with my sister. He even said, “Ya I’m good, I’m with Ahia in her car. When [are] you coming home?” I couldn’t help but ask him, “Who are you talking to?” and then I heard him speak back into the phone, saying “Aunt Nitti, hold on” He moved the mouth piece of the phone out of the way to respond, “Aunt Nitti”. Of course what was I thinking. He even concluded the conversation by saying, “Ok talk to you later. Bye.” You see at the time, my sister lived in Tucson, Arizona and similar to today, she called Kyle a lot to stay in touch. Plus, I’m sure it made my sister feel closer to home through the conversations with Kyle. I mean how she could she not? Kyle always brightened up our days, even through a simple phone call.
As Kyle got older, actually for his fifth birthday, being the practical one, I got him swimming lessons. Taking him to swimming lessons once a week, every week throughout the year, even to present day. Kyle was not a kid that drew a lot but when he did, sometimes he would draw me pictures of the swimming pool and him at one end and me watching at the other side, just like he sees it. He always drew a blue square and placed a letter ‘K’ on one side, later it was his full name as he got older, and a letter ‘H’ on the other side of the blue square. Over the years he’s made me dozens of those pictures, which I’ve kept, being my prize possessions. I loved it! I guess those swimming lessons and our time together really mean something to Kyle. You know, I believe they still do to this day.
Even in the face of an emergency, Kyle still makes a clear association with specific places. One summer about four or five years ago we were cutting down trees and clearing out brush from my backyard. Of course Kyle was there, “assisting”. The night before dad bought a new hatchet. Keep in mind, for some reason Kyle was instantly infatuated with the brand new hatchet. That morning, dad decided to teach Kyle about safety with the tool, using both hands on the handle so he doesn’t chop off a finger, not running with it, setting it down correctly etc. I agree with dad, you can’t just expect kids to know how to do something as an adult, you have to teach them and ease them into experience while they are monitored. Well, we just dropped an oak tree, which was covered in leaves and branches. It was a beautiful tree that I would have kept, except it was too close to my house. It was fun walking through the mighty oak as it laid on the ground like a maze inviting others to join in. At that moment, Dad was sharpening his chain saw to prepare to chop it up in manageable sizes for firewood. Kyle decided to adventure through the branches of the fallen tree with the hatchet. Now on Kyle’s defense he was not doing anything he wasn’t allowed to do. He decided he wanted to help his pappy out by chopping at a branch. But what no one ever anticipated was the variable of Kyle’s sweaty hands. You see it was in the middle of August in the middle of the day. HOT! As Kyle chopped, the hatchet flew out of his sweaty little palms and it landed in his shin. Yep, Kyle gave himself a nice big gash. Not life threatening, but scary no doubt. As dad and I drove him to the emergency room for stitches he began to worry that he was going to have to spend the night. What? You see for the first few years of Kyle’s life, he was in and out of the hospital with ear infections, pneumonia, tonsillitis and the list goes on. So in his mind the hospital trip meant not just a visit, but a stay. That broke my heart! I think he only got about five stitches. After the stitches were in place Dad shook Kyle’s hand and said, “Welcome to the club.” At that moment Kyle smiled and was kind of proud, later bragging about his stitches. Dad and I are both in that club and Kyle knew it.
Kyle continues to surprise me with this association to specific actions or activities. About a month ago, Kyle was not feeling well, in fact he was up all night, I could tell he was achy. I thought since he was perking up a bit, it was a good time to take an easy walk up through the woods, getting him out of the house, stretching his legs and taking in some fresh air. Well about halfway through the trip, Kyle was clearly not well. In fact, he said he felt like he was ready to vomit. I could tell he was weak and dehydrated, since he was not sweating in the slightest, very unusual for Kyle. I got him home and started to push water in him, to remove any dehydration issues and to alleviate his headache. Would you believe that the very next weekend when we began on our weekly voyage through the woods, Kyle brought up that trek? He said, “Aunt Heather, I don’t think that was a good idea to go hiking last time since I was still feeling sick. I thought I was better, but I wasn’t.” I still feel horrible for misjudging his state of health, and I would have to agree with his assessment of the previous adventure. In fact, Kyle still brings that day up to me, not holding it against me, but just remembering it and making it known.
My little man, I pray that I never do or say anything that Kyle associates with me in a truly negative manner. I hope he always thinks of me with happiness and love, even if I do royally screw up, which is inevitable. But everything I do, I try to do with Kyle’s best interest in mind and out of love and respect for him.