This post: Not all kids develop at the same pace. Some kids are simply late bloomers.
My son was recently told he made the honor roll in high school. While that might seem like an average (albeit noble) accomplishment for some parents, to me, it means the world.
You see, my son struggled all the way through school when he was young. From the time he was in preschool, he was the poster “late bloomer” child who didn’t say a whole lot until he was three, who struggled to learn his ABCs while other kids were learning simple addition, and who was in speech therapy for years.
His preschool teacher, who was completely convinced there was something wrong with him, chased me out to my car saying, “I have years of experience as a teacher and I know, something isn’t right.”
His kindergarten teacher pulled me aside in the hall and told me he was “destined to fall between the cracks” because he didn’t have what it took.
His fourth-grade teacher put her hand on my shoulder and told me “It’s alright, not all kids are destined to go to college.”
Some of our friends and relatives thought (quietly) that clearly his situation deserved a “label.”
Weary and frustrated, I did what most parents would do. Against my husband’s better judgment (who was convinced my son had a brilliant mind), I had him tested. For my own peace of mind, I needed to know. I needed to, once and for all, dispel my fears that others might perhaps be right.
It turns out they weren’t.
Not only did the tests reveal that my son was fine, they showed that his cognitive ability was well above normal. In essence, he was taking it all in, he simply wasn’t quite ready to show the world what he knew. We were told, “Be patient. Your boy is a late bloomer.”
Still, as he trudged through elementary and middle school, the struggle continued.
Through it all, I kept reminding myself… I am his mother. I know my boy better than anyone. I know what he’s capable of, what he’s not quite ready to tackle and I know his strengths and weaknesses.
I have been my son’s champion for close to two decades now. Through my worry, tears, sleepless nights and fears, I never stopped believing in him. Yes, it was hard… terribly hard. But I never lost faith.
I boosted him up when others put him down.
I told him he could when he told himself he couldn’t.
I brushed aside the comments, negativity, and gossip, and focused on him, his abilities and his destiny.
In spite of, and perhaps because of the critics, I encouraged him to be everything I knew he could be.
The journey has been long, exhausting and difficult and yet, it has also incredibly rewarding and amazing to accompany my son on his journey. I watched him overcome tremendous adversity and come out shining. I watched him gain an inner strength far beyond his years and develop wisdom and confidence found only in those who have fought a battle and survived.
So, to the critics, the non-believers and the skeptics, thank you.
Had it not been for you, my son and I would have never been so determined to prove you wrong.
I never would have cheered quite as loudly when he reached another goal – no matter how small or insignificant.
I never would have told my son a million times over that he has what it takes, that he’s smart, wise beyond his years and a passionate dreamer who holds the power to change the world.
I never would have pushed him a little harder, taught him to block out the naysayers and watched him learn from experience that there is no shame in failure.
Yes, my son made the honor roll this year, but that’s not all. He’s a straight “A” student, he recently received his private pilot’s license after seven years of pilot training and is now in training to receive his instrumentation rating after which he plans on becoming a Certified Flight Instructor. He’s an amateur space photographer, builds rockets as a hobby and plans to study Aerospace Engineering in college.
I know how far he’s come… more importantly, my son knows how far he’s come. And, through it all, he learned a few things.
He learned the true meaning of resilience and for that, I’m grateful.
He learned that life is a marathon, not a sprint.
He learned to appreciate the benefit of adversity and how to get back up when he fell.
He learned that although his young life was filled with more than a few bumps in the road and detours, it’s those bumps and detours that held the most value and that made him stronger and more self-aware of his strengths and abilities.
He learned to truly appreciate every milestone and achievement in his life.
He learned not to follow the arbitrary timelines that society deems as normal and acceptable and, instead, follow his own heart and his own instincts – all at his own steady pace.
He learned to block out the white noise and focus on what matters – his hopes, his dreams, and his life.
He’s an inspiration to me, his dad, his sisters and countless boys who are following in his footsteps to become a pilot.
There was never anything wrong my boy. He just needed time…
He needed a champion.
He needed patience.
He needed understanding and compassion and kindness.
He needed the freedom to become who he was meant to be on his own terms.
When I spoke with my son about publishing this post, I was hesitant. I was quietly convinced he’d say no, that this was an aspect of his life he wanted to hush and that he would perhaps be embarrassed to let the world know of his struggles.
But, that wasn’t the case at all…
In fact, my son was determined to tell the world.
“Mom, throughout the years I struggled, I really didn’t know I was struggling. But you did. You felt the pain far more than I ever did. No mom should ever have to go through what you went through. They need to know they were wrong. They need to know that every child develops at their own pace. They need to know so they never judge another child ever again.”
So, to all the moms raising late bloomers, my message to you is this… believe in your child with all your heart.
Don’t let anyone make you question their ability. It doesn’t matter how much they’re struggling, they will get there. With your determination, patience, fortitude, and unconditional love and support, they will get there. Maybe not at your pace, maybe not at the world’s pace, but at their own pace… and, that’s okay. Have patience. Don’t rush them.
Be strong. Be steadfast. Be brave. Be your child’s champion.
Sometimes it’s the kids who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine. ~ the imitation game