There’s something magical about the way children see the world around them. Every day can be a new adventure with things to learn and new places to discover--even if those discoveries happen to be where I keep the potting soil (eek!).
My two youngest kids are six and four, and are about as best of friends as they come. They also share a unique bond in that they were both born with hereditary hearing loss and both wear hearing aids--a journey that has been both a struggle and a blessing for our whole family.
It. Is. Hard. I vividly recall learning of my sweet daughter's hearing loss from the audiologist and crying in the hospital room, holding my baby against my chest just hours after she was born. The doctor suggested further testing and the eventual need for hearing aids. Not only did she sit with me and listen to all my concerns, she held my hand and cried right along with me. Obviously, I’m humbled often that these are the problems my children face while others have much greater challenges. But learning and accepting something is wrong with your child is always so difficult, no matter to what degree.
Daily we’re faced with new ups and downs and highs and lows as they/we navigate their hearing devices, audiology appointments, speech therapy, and language classes. We are extremely fortunate to live next to a university that specializes in early childhood development and grants us access to some of the best doctors and therapists around. Along with all the specialists, they've provided a preschool that my kids have been fortunate to attend since they were 18 months old. Once again, we daily count our lucky stars and send out prayers of gratitude for all the amazing support we are blessed with.
Fast forward six years and six months (give or take 16 days). That dark-haired, dark-eyed girl is not only doing well, she’s thriving! She is the most content child I’ve ever known. Her presence and personality just shouts with joy. To know her really is to know love. She just entered her first year of public school system (mask and all) and has a great team behind her. She knows all about her hearing aids, how to work them, put them in and out, change the battery, and hook them up to her FM system. She has learned to advocate for herself, to ask questions, and to not be afraid when people ask her what she’s wearing on her ears. She is a dream, and I beam with pride thinking of how her confidence continues to grow with each new hurdle we have to cross.
She also has been the perfect role model for her younger brother as he’s begun his hearing aid journey. It’s safe to say his road has been a little rockier, and one we would not have willingly continued had we not seen the first-hand success of his big sister. But together they’re like peanut butter and jelly. They share a special bond that no one else will ever fully understand. Truly brother and sister in every sense, they fight and play and make messes just like they’re supposed to. She loves and dotes on him and he likes to threaten to punch her. She also is the first to make sure he knows where his hearing aids are and helps put them back in the right place when he takes them out. She will tell him all about what to expect when going in for audio appointments and what to anticipate when getting new molds. She'll find any way possible to be a little "mom" to him.
The way they play is pure magic. Their imaginations are such that they nearly have me convinced that all the grasshoppers they catch do indeed talk to them. For hours and hours they can build forts and collect treasures. They play Avengers and hide from the pirates. They are the best helpers in the kitchen and the hardest workers in the garden, especially when it comes to watering flowers together (i.e. playing in the water and get everything soaked). They make me want to be a kid again. So when I first came across the perfection of Olli Ella, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the possibility of their beautiful baskets, bags, and dolls becoming part of our family and part of my kiddos imaginative lands. Simple, timeless, and classic, Olli Ella brings the level of play even higher. I can't wait to share them with my sweet kids. After all, every child needs a special place to carry their treasures and pack their snacks.
Six years old, I've decided, is it. It's the age I would freeze time and put our long days on repeat. It's at this age that the world seems full of possibilities, unicorns are real, and you can be Hawkeye one day and Hulk the next, with no one to tell you otherwise. Six years old--where they still like to snuggle and hold your hand and go on picnics. Where you're their best friend, their safety. It's the age where daunting, overwhelming lifetime struggles seem like a walk in the park. And because my six year old has no fear of what her future will bring, I tearfully and proudly believe I can feel that way, too.
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