“Each parent does not want their child to feel ‘different.’ Being unique is never a negative thing, but for kids who find it hard to fit in, feeling anything less than ‘normal’ may be brutally lonely.” These words carry profound meaning, as Derek Prue Jr., an 8-year-old from Alberta, Canada, knows all too well.
Born with a birthmark covering part of his chest, he has always felt self-conscious about it. However, his world was transformed when his father surprised him with a matching tattoo, mirroring the birthmark, in an effort to make him feel less alone.
In a heartwarming twist, Derek Sr. had the tattoo done secretly and revealed it to his son while they were playing with his sisters in a hotel swimming pool. Standing by the pool’s side, he called out to his little son in the water. When Derek Jr. turned to face him, he was astounded to see his father wearing an identical beauty mark, replicating the birthmark he had carried since birth.
The young boy was speechless, falling back into the water with a broad smile. Thrilled and somewhat bewildered, Derek Jr. expressed his gratitude. He had no inkling that his father would go to such lengths to show support. Being aware of his son’s self-consciousness about the birthmark, especially as he grew older and started swimming with a T-shirt on, Derek Sr. discreetly searched for ways to help his child feel more secure without covering up.
Understanding that getting a matching tattoo would immediately boost his son’s confidence, Derek Sr. embarked on a mission to find a skilled tattoo artist who could accurately recreate the symbol. Eventually, he connected with Tony Gibbert, the owner of Juicy Quill tattoo business in Stony Plain, Alberta, who enthusiastically agreed to the endeavor.
Gibbert needed to recreate the pattern, so the Prue family convinced Derek Jr. to pose for a few photographs, claiming they wanted to capture his birthmark. Little did he know that these images would be essential for the tattoo artist’s work.
The dedicated father endured a total of 30 hours of tattoo sessions with Gibbert, who painstakingly recreated the duplicate. The process was split into several 3–4 hour periods, and Derek Sr. had to keep his chest covered to conceal the secret.
Reflecting on the experience, Derek Sr. expressed his privilege in being part of such a touching narrative. He acknowledged the profound impact of being able to soothe his son in such a way, stating that it goes beyond a mere display of affection. He emphasized the joy of witnessing his son swimming alongside him, confidently removing his shirt and finding happiness and comfort in being himself.
Shanel Prue, Derek Jr.’s mother, observed a significant boost in her son’s confidence since the tattoo was revealed. In fact, when she asked him if he now felt comfortable taking his shirt off before diving into the pool, he seemed willing to try for the first time in a long while.
This gesture of love and support from his father has had a lasting impact on Derek Jr., allowing him to embrace his uniqueness with newfound confidence.