I’ve taken a little bit of time since your birthday to write this, because I didn’t really know what to say. I mean, there’s a lot of things I want to say, but you’re at an age now where privacy is an issue and I don’t want to break your trust.
There are things I want everyone to know, though and I would scream it from the rooftops if I could, to be honest. What is it, you ask? It’s how strong you really are.
When you were around four, I would sit back in wonder, watching you build Legos from scratch, making these amazing creations. You insisted that you learn how to read, too. You were always inquisitive and had such an imagination. So when I sent you off to kindergarten, I figured you’d float through without any issues, but then we sat down with the teacher for the parent/teacher conferences, and I felt like she was talking about another kid.
Slowly, over the course of kindergarten and into first grade, I saw that kid that would sit and build for hours, carefree and so very happy, slip away from me, and I would cry to dad about how I felt like I was losing you. Through no fault of your own, we discovered that you had depression and anxiety, but for me, that wasn’t explanation enough. Why would a kid so little, with no home issues, and no major life changes be struggling so much? I pushed, and pushed, little buddy, until I got some answers. And finally, standing on the other side of second grade, we have a diagnosis; APD (Auditory Processing Disorder.)
When I told you that you had a diagnosable issue, and not just stupidity, as you would always say was the cause, you looked shocked. It broke my heart to see that look on your face. You truly believed that you were not smart. That you were behind your peers because, despite how hard you’d try, you weren’t on that level.
Buddy, hear me now: No kid teaches themselves how to read at the age of four, and is stupid. No kid at five can build Legos with the instructions that are meant for 9 year olds, and be dumb. No kid can do twice the amount of work, even when it’s hard, and still be considered mediocre. You have worked harder than all of your peers the past three years, because you’ve had to. Because your brain physically CAN NOT process the same way it does for everyone else. And that’s OK. What you have hopefully learned about yourself is that you are not a quitter. That even when it was so hard, and you’d cry from sheer frustration, you’d still look back and say you did it the best you could. You should always be proud of your efforts.
I know that we live in a time where everyone gets an award just for putting their shoes on the right feet every day, but you, sir, should be proud of your efforts. Those efforts may not mean much to some, but to me, and your teachers, and your dad, and everyone else who has been on this journey with you, we have seen your growth. We have seen how hard you try. We have seen how much you’ve struggled and failed, and then struggled and slowly limped yourself across the finish line. And here we are, at the end of your second grade year, and you are on grade level, in spite of it all. You should be so proud.
Luca, I fully believe that if you didn’t have APD, you would be running circles around school, and feeling very proud of yourself. I know that this struggle has meant you’ve been beaten down morally, but it is my goal for you this summer to begin to love yourself again, as you did before school began. We will not let you fall, and we will not let you get the best of you.
I love you so much, kid. I hope you always know that. I hope you always know, even if it’s just in the back of your head, that your mom always fought for you. Every day. You are the kid that I can always rely on to be calm and quiet. To sit on my lap and snuggle when you’re tired. To read me the funny part in a book, and giggle over it until you can’t breathe.
You’ve always had a special spot in my heart. Never forget that. Most of all, never forget that you can be anything you want. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. You just might have to work a lot more than everyone else, but that’s okay. It means you want it more. Don’t ever sell yourself short. We’ve got this…you and me.
Happy belated birthday.