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The week after the tournament was a busy one. Steven had his medical checkup; his dental checkup and we had the annual tree decorating party. It was also the week of mid-term report cards at school.

The medical checkup went well, and I was happy that Steven had grown a full inch since his last one. His body was now beginning to show the signs of all the activities I had him involved in and Dr. Brian was happy as well. The surgical scar from the appendicitis had healed very well and was very small. Dr. Brian commented on the expertise of the surgeon, whom he did not know. Steven also showed Dr. Brian that he now had two parts in his privates. This surprised Brian as he told me when he did the hernia check there were two testicles. He said he would check with the hospital to get a better picture. In any case, he was not worried at all and impressed with the outcome of the surgery.

The dentist still mentioned the tooth that was not aligned with his jaw but continued to not be too worried about it. Steven was losing teeth regularly and even at this juncture, had two missing. The dentist said everything was growing back just fine and that all his adult teeth were looking good. One thing he did, which I thought was a good idea, was give Steven a plastic toothbrush and a model of the teeth and asked Steven to show how he brushed his teeth. After he had shown the doctor, the dentist indicated one area he was missing. Steven thanked the dentist and said he would remember from now on.

The tree decorating party was a huge success. Once again, we got a beautiful tree for the living room and put the lights on. The next day, Grandma and Grandpa came and helped with putting the rest of the decorations on. Steven remembered many of them from last year and I think my parents were impressed with his memory. When it was all over, we sat in the living room for 20 minutes before it was time to get ready for bed. As he had done several times before, Grandpa read to Steven on this night. Then it was hugs all around, and off to bed. I came back from tucking him in and kissing him goodnight and my mom and dad told me that he was really looking great. Then my dad did something that I never thought he would ever do – he told me how proud he was of me taking Steven in my charge. I thanked him and we talked for about an hour about Steven until they both mentioned that it was getting late and they had a long ride home. 

On Christmas morning I surprised Steven with a trip to Hawaii for a week. We would leave two days after Christmas and travel to Honolulu where we would spend a week both on the beach and exploring Hawaii. Steven was super excited about this and at Christmas dinner at my parents, it was all he could talk about. He had his usual million questions to ask everyone about Hawaii and island life.

We left two days later, and Steven was elated to get a window seat again. When all he saw was ocean for the last 5 hours of the flight it did become a bit monotonous. I brought out the UNO cards and he and I and a boy of 11 or 12 who sat beside us, all played UNO on and off for the rest of the flight. Steven enjoyed the food and the flight attendants really doted on him. He was the charmer, I had to admit.

After we checked into the hotel we changed and headed out to the beach. It was now 18 months that Steven had been taking swimming lessons so while I watched him closely in the water, I was not nearly as anxious as I had been on our visit to California. Steven had a great time in the water and made some new friends almost immediately. It was an hour later that he came up from the water, so I threw a towel around him and told him to sit down for a few minutes. I ordered us some refreshments and at the same time refreshed his sun tan lotion. The last thing I wanted was a nine-year-old with a sunburn. 

A little later two of his new friends came over and they took off with the beach toys to play in the sand. They were busy building castles with waterways and had a great time. I talked with the parents of the two boys and we all decided to meet up for dinner. When Steven found out about this he jumped up and gave me a big hug. On our way back to our room, I stopped by the hotel shop and we picked up some island fashion shirts. I have to admit that we looked like complete tourist Hawaiians wearing our new shirts. Steven really liked his. It would become part of his daily change of clothes and evening wear.

After two days at the beach it was time to explore Hawaii. I signed us up for a whole day tour of all the islands. It was on a small plane which really intrigued Steven. While I enjoyed the tour a lot, Steven really enjoyed all the plane rides. We got to see the big island and all the black sand from the volcano. We went to Kauai to see the waterfalls and rainforest and when it came time to go under the falls, Steven threw off his shirt and pants and was the one who lead the way. He was laughing and really enjoying being under the falls. As we changed out of our swim wear, he told me that the waterfall was really like a giant shower. He teased me by saying that maybe we should have brought some soap and shampoo. We both had a good laugh at that. The tour ended with a dinner on the beach in Maui. It was a traditional affair with the roast pig in the underground oven and hula dancers. When it was audience participation time, they picked Steven to go up. They put a hula skirt on him and showed him how to do the dance. I wish I had a movie camera for this as it was really quite amusing. When it was all over, he got to keep the hula skirt.

It was way past his bedtime when we returned to the hotel, so it was straight off to bed. He told me that he had a great time and thanked me for the day as he gave me a big hug and kiss. I think he was asleep before his head actually touched the pillow.

The next day we met up with his friends again on the beach. We were quite late as I wanted Steven to sleep as much as possible since yesterday had been exhausting for him and we were out quite late. The boys all had a great time in the surf. I rented a small surf board for them and was intrigued as they all tried to actually surf. What truly amazed me was that all three boys did manage to stand up on the board. It was not for very long, but they did manage to actually surf. I was pretty sure there were no lessons for this age group, so I just let them have fun on the board. By the end of the day, they all dragged the surf board onto the beach and back to the rental place. I made sure they said their thanks as they returned the board. I ordered all of them a snack as we sat on our beach blanket and just rested. 

No trip to Hawaii is complete without a trip to Pearl Harbor. I had talked to Steven about this for the past couple of days and we signed up for a half day, morning tour. Steven was unusually quiet as we walked through the memorial and he listened intently to the tour guide give his talk. The guide was a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack and really had Steven interested. At the end it was Steven who walked over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for his service to his country. While we were Canadian, Steven was earnest and honest with his thanks. I think I noticed a tear is the guides eyes.

We spent the rest of the day on the beach. Once again. I rented a small surfboard for Steven and his friends who continued to amaze me with their surfing ability. One other thing that really made me feel good was that at no time did Steven ask for, or need, his floatie. His swimming was strong enough now to be on his own. This did not mean that I forgot about him as I was always in my lifeguard mode.

On the last night we had another traditional dinner put on by the hotel. I had invited all the families of his friends and again, it was a tearful goodbye for Steven. I did not bother to get numbers or addresses this time as I knew that the possibility of seeing each other again was extremely remote. As we headed for our room, Steven was glowing with happiness and joy. He told me he had a great time in Hawaii and asked if we could come back again someday. I told him it was always a possibility.

We arrived home the day before school started, so it was back into routines as we prepared. Once unpacked, I started the laundry while Steven went to review his reading and math. He asked me to look them over, which I did, then I sent him off to shower and get ready for bed. We read for 20 minutes when Steven voluntarily said he was tired. I held his hand as we walked to his room. I tucked him in, kissed him on the forehead and told him I loved him as I turned out the light. He thanked me for such a great holiday and told me he loved me too.

There rest of his grade 3 year was equally as good. He continued to grow, and his health had really taken a positive turn. He practiced his gymnastics almost every day and even at home he practiced his hand stands and balances just as his coach had asked him. We went skiing as often as we could and with the continued lessons, he was getting better every week. We even got our first trip to the mountains at a ski resort called Sunshine Village. Steven was amazed at the size of it and had a lot of fun with the other kids in the ski school for the morning and with me during the afternoon.

His end of year report card was excellent, and Mr. Sorenson said he had shown remarkable growth in his reading and math. With summer on the horizon, once again, I decided to continue this throughout the summer.

Summer came and went in a flash. Not only did Steven continue with his soccer team, but also his gymnastics and swimming every day. I was so happy I could burst. My little Steven was blossoming right before my eyes. As I had predicted, all of this had a very positive effect on what started out as a frail and slight body. It also helped that he had the best attitude towards this that anyone could ask for.

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Harold Daw
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