Little Nick Hight turned 4 this past November, and he’s smart. As he plays with his Lego blocks, an observer can watch Nick discover a problem then quickly work to solve it until he gives it a satisfied “there” when it’s accomplished.
“He’s already figured out his mom’s cell phone,” his mother Chassitty Hight said with a smile, “and likes to play on the computer.”
“And I can do anything to the TV,” Nick added in the midst of his blocks with a little laugh.
The dark cloud over this otherwise heartwarming scene is that this openhearted and bright kid also has an affliction that renders his bones extremely fragile. His condition is called osteogenesis imperfecta.
He has suffered through almost 50 broken bones in his four years, although he’s a strong little kid and seems to bounce back with a strength that belie his fragile bones.
At the beginning of February, little Nick’s doctors are scheduled to surgically place metal rods into the long bones of his legs to strengthen them and reduce the risk of fractures.
The procedure may also give him a chance to walk. The procedure will be done in Omaha, and on the trip he’s getting a chance to see the King of Rock’s old stomping grounds in Memphis.
Small steps are a milestone
For years he’s gotten an infusion to help his bones get stronger, and the breaks now happen with less frequency, his parents said, but they still happen too often for comfort.
He’s gotten a variety of physical and instructional therapies for some time now and the school system has provided tutors so he’ll be ready for school when that time comes.
As for day-to-day life, there are adjustments that have to be made. but little Nick rides in a car seat like any child his age should. And his parents have added a play area to the house downstairs.
The play area is a big open family area so Nick can scoot around like the “Cars” character Lightning McQueen without obstacles to get in the way.
While scooting along on his back, using his legs and elbows to propel himself, he lightly sings a “scooting” song — as only a kid happily going about his business can.
“He loves cars,” his mom said as she looked at the checkered paint on his bedroom wall with the movie’s characters on it. “He’s pretty spoiled. He gets pretty much everything he wants.”
This includes going to work with dad at J’s Used Cars on Shorter Avenue in West Rome so he can check out the rides and tell his dad the names of all the different cars along the way.
“It’s just a gift he has, (his mom) thinks it’s something he’s learned — but it’s just a gift,” his father Nicholas Hight said with pride.
He speaks like a little adult, maybe adding a dash of silliness. And he can now eat normal food, although there are still some complications, but nothing a little love can’t handle.
For Christmas he got an electric John Deere Gator four-wheeler from Santa in which to ride around. But some modifications had to be made in the elves’ workshop so Nick would be secure in the seat. And because he couldn’t reach the gas pedal, Santa made some adjustments.
“So Santa Claus had a button put on the steering wheel,” Chassitty said. “And pretty much everything we get has to have a seat belt.”
There aren’t any inside pets, except a fish, but outside there are goats and a rottweiler named Micky, or big Mick, who loves to chase little Nick on his Gator.
“He always chases us when I start my Gator up,” little Nick laughs.
He loves animals: his goats, his fish and big Mick — but most of all he loves those dawgs.
“Go Bulldogs!” he shouts without hesitation, when asked who his favorite football team is.
Another constant companion is Sheepy, his stuffed sheep.
“That’s what he sleeps with and carries around,” his mom said. “And bounces around,” little Nick added.
Along with his love of cars, his dawgs and Sheepy, he also loves to tell a joke.
“What do you call cheese that is not yours?” he asks. It’s impossible not to laugh before he tells the punchline, his infectious giggling catching hold while he tries to get the answer out.
“Nacho cheese,” he barely gets out before a new gale of laughter begins.