Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Big Teen!

A few days ago, my oldest turned 19!! I was thinking about where we started and where we are now. What an amazing journey it has been! I think from the very beginning, long before homeschooling entered my mind, I wanted him to be a well-rounded Renaissance Man when he grew up. 

I had pretty lofty hopes and plans for my baby, considering that he was lying in the neonatal intensive care unit close to death, and I was a single teenage mother who had not yet finished high school! But I did have a  very supportive family and a whole lot of faith. So I laid my hopes and dreams in God's hands and went about the daily life of keeping my little fella alive, loved and well fed and getting myself through high school and college. 

For a few years, I didn't think that much about how he was going to become that Renaissance Man of my dreams. I took him places, answered his questions, took him to church, read him books and let him explore the world. My Mom bought him every developmental toy under the sun. And he seemed happy and very curious to learn. I come from a family, both on my Mom's and Dad's side, who love learning. I do, too, and expected that my son would continue with his quest for knowledge.

Then, sadly, I put him in public school. He went into the special education public school preschool for disabled children when he was only 2 years old. What a nightmare! All of a sudden his dreams and love of learning were dying, and it seemed my dreams for his future were dying again, just as they had seemed to do so many times before as he lay in hospital bed after hospital bed, with more and more dire predictions. By my little boy's 3rd grade year, I had graduated college and was married to my wonderful dh. After I spent a traumatic year as a remedial reading and math teacher in a public school, we began to actively research homeschooling. Then my dh and I pulled him out and once again began our journey towards making that Renaissance Man.

So where are we now? Well, the doctors were partly right. He is severely learning disabled and will probably live with us for many years to come. But he is in much better condition than many with Velo-Cardio Facial Syndrome, although his case is extreme. Plus, he was hit with having another congenital disorder, Dandy Walker Cyst Syndrome, with which many children don't survive past infancy. He is alive, very bright and an interesting person to spend time with. I decided to start a new tradition that I saw on another blog. I am going to list 19 descriptive words about the Big Teen for the 19 years he has been on earth. He is   
  • cultured
  • loyal
  • loving
  • talkative
  • witty
  • imaginative
  • a naturalist
  • caring
  • a bibliophile
  • strong-willed
  • helpful
  • resilient
  • sensitive
  • inventive
  • respectable
  • straight-forward
  • humane
  • passionate
  • well-rounded
So I think in the end he came out with many of the qualities I had hoped for. I had hoped that his journey would be easier and that his future was a bit brighter and without obstacles.  Of course, I had hoped that he could be fully independent and be free of health concerns. However, this is not his path. He has touched so many lives and continues to touch lives every day. I am so thankful for God's blessings in his life.

As for Renaissance Man, he has a natural talent for archery and is currently loving his fencing classes. Until he turned 15, he would only listen to classical music, by his choice. His $6 per week allowance goes entirely to books from the used bookstore. He loves to read Machiavelli and just bought a biography of a philosopher. He loves art history and ancient history, comparative religions and all kinds of literature. As soon as he graduates, he is going to start studying philosophy. He has a great passion for social justice and ardently seeks the Truth about all things.

Ok, if you are still here ~ I will leave you with some photos of his birthday.

His choice for dinner out was the Red Lobster. Yes, we broke the diet for that one night. I pumped lots of Vitamin C into the kids to help with allergy breakouts and it worked pretty well.

Blessings, Dawn 


  1. SandBetweenMyToesApril 11, 2009 at 3:43 AM

    Happy Belated Birthday. I enjoyed your post, as I wasn't aware of his full story. What a great journey. I know you are so proud.

    Enjoyed your spring pics, too. You always do amazing studies with your children.


  2. Happy Birthday to him!!

    Blessings, Michele


  3. That was a wonderful tribute to your son.

    Good job, momma!

  4. I was reading through that list of 19 things and thinking "wow - Dawn got her Renaissance man after all!" Great pics - looks like a fun celebration!

  5. Wow. (I stuck with you through the whole story. LOL) Great tribute to your son. And a great tribute to God's power in his life. Thanks for sharing. Bless him and bless you!

  6. I love this post! I'm planning to do a similar "Things I Really Like about..." in a couple of weeks when our daughter turns 14. Oh, where does the time go?

    It sounds as if you, your husband, and God raised more of a Renaissance man than you ever would have perhaps if his life had taken a different path. This post is a true testament to the Lord's ability to work outside of the tongues and plans of man (the doctor's and school system, that is). He sounds like a wonderful young man of character and conviction.

    Hey, I could write three separate entries, but decided to stop at two! I have plans to purchase a "Bugville" system this summer once we slow down. The youngest has been wanting to do this for a while. Our garden, solely based upon what vegetables we were given and what seeds we had during this time, is composed of onions (purple, yellow, and white) and okra. We didn't dig rows, though; hubby bought long, rectangular trays--LOL!!

    God bless, Dawn, and enjoy the day! By the way, those garlic biscuits at Red Lobster are to die for, huh?

  7. Happy Belated Birthday. Thank you for sharing his story. The part about sn preK really hit a chord with me. We are being strongly encouraged to take that path with Eliana. I don't want to - but wonder if I'm doing her a disservice by not sending her there (mainly for the therapies she would received).

    (((Dawn))) I can tell you are a wonderful mom. I appreciate your sharing about your mistakes and triumphs with us.



  8. This is a beautiful tribute to your son. Sending you a pm.

  9. to your special Renaissance man. Awesome job, Mom. Sounds like he is growing to be better than any Renaissance man in history.

  10. Happy Belated Birthday!!