Saturday, September 8, 2018

Forrest is 6 Years Old

Dear Forrest, 

You are SIX year old. Holy batman. It is getting to the point where Mama is telling people that it no longer feels like as if it is yesterday when she and Daddy brought you home from the hospital, because so much time has passed. This brings up a weird juxtaposition of having emotions of both sadness, and happiness. There is sadness because time waits for no one, and you're growing up too quickly for Mama's liking, yet there is a lot of happiness, because it has been so fascinating to watch you grow into an awesome person, and to develop a more meaningful relationship with you.  The relationship with you is no longer 'one way street' of Mama and Daddy pouring love onto you, and taking care of you. Mama and Daddy encased their ideas, hopes, and dreams onto you. Now it's becoming two way street. You're shedding that encasement of what Mama and Daddy put on you. You're able to interact more, show different interests, a plethora of lessons to be discussed about and learned from, and to really get to know you.

The best news came from your former speech teacher, Colleen, was you being officially released from IEP. It was hard to believe that you came to her, barely speaking and communicating to being a very talkative little boy! The hard work you put in with Colleen paid off! She informed us that she had released only a handful students during her career, and she was proud to include you to be among of the few. It was an emotional moment to have her retire, because she had put in so much in teaching you and Franklin to communicate, and to also have you to improve so much under her care. It didn't surprise us though that you were able to blaze through the last two years in term of your speech development.

Your second year of 4K was a wonderful one. It confirmed our decision to hold you back for another year, because you had grown so tremendously in Michelle's LEADS class. It also helped to learn that the majority of your classmates were held back due to their late birthdays. You were placed at the first grade reading level, and you joined the first graders for reading time. It blew our minds how well you were able to read. You showed a preference for a silent reading. Mama and Daddy encouraged your love of reading by picking books in your favorite topics, which usually meant nature, cooking, dinosaurs, Big Foot, myths, and Star Wars! More often than not, people told us they were also mind blown by how well you read. Your mathematics with counting was marked to be at end of kindergarten level. Your writing had improved from being barely readable to Mama and Daddy being able to understand what you were writing. Your coloring, and cutting skills were difficult for you last year, and this year, you had no trouble doing them! My, what accomplishments you had achieved, and on top of this, to have your skills to be fine tuned by attending this wonderful program led by a great teacher.

You remained to be a social butterfly! You loved to talk loudly among your friends during the class, and often needed to be reminded by your teacher to settle down some. It was wonderful to hear that you were the life of the classroom. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that you learned proper social norms, and to be a polite boy. Your emotional maturity level had also grown. There were a lot of lessons for you to learn how to socialize with your friends, how to resolve conflicts and arguments, to apologize, and to accept apologies from others. Your friendships brought a lot of teachable moments involving discussions about your feelings, and thoughts. It prompted your teacher to encourage us to give you a journal. Boy, you sure loved writing in your journal! It helped you to identify, and label your feelings to reduce some of the outbursts you had. By the end of the year, you gained confidence, and Mama and Daddy could not be any happier than they already were for you. You were more than ready for kindergarten this fall.

Your signing has also exploded. It is wonderful to see you developing fluency for a second language. Your signing has gotten to the point where you are able to carry on a conversation with Mama. You have been complimented by some folks in the public on how well you sign for your age. When you try to ask Daddy to interpret for you on the days when you feel discouraged, he tells you no, and to keep trying. This fuels your drive to overcome obstacles in not knowing certain sign words. You love reading with Mama, and having her sign along with you reading so you can learn signs. It is amazing to see how children's minds function in term of developing language, communication, and blending two cultures into one. By your persistence in learning signing, Franklin is also encouraged to pick up on his language development, and he has been improving greatly as well! You're a wonderful mentor for your younger brothers, and becoming into a fascinating CODA (child of a Deaf adult).

You went to your 6 year old wellness check. Everything checked out to be great with you! You were a bit worried about getting immunization shots, and fortunately, you did not need them until you turn eleven year old! You clocked at 3 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed 42 pounds. Dr. Karbon said you looked great. 

It has been amazing to see you growing into a little boy, and how much you resemble Daddy! When people share with you that you look like Daddy, you smile and nod your head, then say, yes I know rather shyly. You are no longer a small child, but a young boy with so much yearning to explore, and learn about the world around you.

While you look so much like Daddy, some of your personality traits reminds Mama so much of...her! Mind you, while you share some similar personality traits with Mama, you still are uniquely YOU. There are a lot of things about you that are just YOURS. 

You love books, especially Goosebumps, anything about Big Foot, mythology, dinosaurs, and adventures. You often hoard books on your bed, and Mama have to clean off your bed at least once a week so you have some space to sleep in your bed! You get quite upset when one of your books falls apart from being handled so much, and ask Mama to fix them for you. Sometimes, she has to replace your favorite books by ordering new copies! It warms Mama's heart so much that you love to read, because Mama was (and still is) still the same way. You love scary movies! Mama looks forward to the day when she can introduce you to to the world of zombies, monsters, aliens, and outlandish creature movies...but that will be some time off yet, and you will need to be a bit older before that happens. Right now, you enjoy Goosebumps, and kid friendly scary movies, books, and all that. 

You love pizza, home made garlic bread, and hot dogs. You're starting to accept the idea of eating broccoli, and certain vegetables. It's a work in the progress, but you will come to like to eat them. You have found that you love eating yogurt, and cheese sticks. Mama has to watch over how much you eat dairy, because it can cause your eczema to flare up. Finding a right type of milk that you will drink is a bit tricky still in term of not causing your skin to flare up, or finding something you will drink. You're such a picky eater! Mama and Daddy are still constantly encouraging you to widen your palate with food, and you usually end up liking them! 

You dislike being discouraged from doing certain things by yourself. Sometimes you think you are able to make your own rules, because you are the oldest child in the house. Mama and Daddy often have to remind you that while you are the oldest, your parents still determine, enforce, and establish rules for everybody to follow. You struggle with Franklin copying you in everything you do. You often need to be reminded that Franklin looks up to you so much, and loves you so. He thinks you are the most awesome person on the planet, and craves your approval. Franklin gets quite heartbroken when you try to do your own thing without him. Because of this, Mama and Daddy have to find a happy ground of allowing you to do your own thing and him with his own, and making sure you both have time to play together. Sometimes it can be such a challenge for you, because Franklin struggles with his speech development and doesn't always express himself appropriately, which annoys you, and you want him to stop. It is a constant balance of making sure all cogs in the wheel continues to function properly. This brings a lot of lessons in appropriate social interaction, how to express ourselves appropriately, when to apologize and forgive, to give and take, and apply those to life outside home.

You're so full of personality! You love to show off, and make everybody around you chuckle. You have a sharp sense of humor. For instance, the other day you asked a nurse why your doctor was mean after she told you the doctor's name, Dr. McMeen. The nurse assured you that Dr. McMeen was anything, but mean, and that it was just her surname. You said without a beat, "Oh, she must be mean to the adults then." You started cracking up shortly after.

You're also filled with surprises. In the same conversation, You asked your doctor if she was from France, or Europe, because of how her last name was spelled. The doctor smiled, and later Mama learned that your doctor, in fact, was from Kiev, Urkaine! How did you know that? Or you will randomly tell Mama or Daddy (or anybody who is listening) facts about nature, and it blew their minds. It was like how do you know this stuff at age of 6?! Mama tries to remind people (and herself at times) not to make intelligence a sole bragging point for you, because there ARE MANY wonderful things about you that are always praised, and reinforced.

While we miss Dr. Warpinski, our previous allergist who had retired last year, we have come to really appreciate our new allergist, Dr. McMeen. 

She was full of wealth information with helpful tips, and suggestions. Some of tips were new to Mama, and she appreciated all the help she got from Dr. McMeen regarding your eczema. Your eczema had been a huge struggle this summer with you swimming all summer long, and being exposed to pollen in the environment. She explained that your previous blood test had cleared you of all tree nuts allergy, including the cashews to which you were allergic to as a baby, however, she still erred on the cautious side. She wanted you to wait a year before retesting to make sure that it was completely safe for you to attempt tree nuts trial. A challenge remained with tree nuts, and that was the case of cross-contamination of them being mixed with peanuts. It was a bit mind boggling to see how EXPENSIVE tree nuts were when they were labeled to be processed in a separate facility from the peanuts. It was Mama's hope to find tree nuts that were affordable, and ALSO safe for you to eat, so she can go ahead and make homemade granola bars for you to snack on someday. 

Your score was higher than the last time you had your blood test from a few years prior, which pinpointed to a severe peanut allergy, and it was a bit sad to hear that. Mama wished she was able to find a cure for your peanut allergy, so you can always remain safe, never having to worry about rejected by insurance someday for having a pre-existing condition, stressing about having epi pens with you at all of the time, dealing with general ignorance surrounding food allergies, and enjoy food carefree, yet at the same time, you were given this for a reason. Mama felt that by growing up as a Deaf person, she was able to prepare you for life challenges, and the struggles that may come with you having a peanut allergy. At the same time, remember that this also shared a lot of benefits, such as making you more empathetic person, shaping your assertiveness, and standing up for those with conditions that may invite others not to be as understanding toward them. 

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You have grown into the role of an oldest brother rather wonderfully. You're extremely protective of Fox, and always want to make sure he remains safe under your watch. You love picking him up in your arms, and carry him to whatever you think he should go. You let Mama know when Fox needs her, tells Franklin to be "soft" with Fox, and helps Mama out by throwing away soiled diapers. You proudly tell people that you have two brothers, and that you love them so (despite your sibling rivalry with Franklin from time to time).

We look toward year 6 with you!

We love you so, our dear bookworm.


Mama, Daddy, Franklin, and Fox