but that isn’t what makes us the most proud of our son.

We are proud of this young man and his compassionate heart. We are proud of his amazing work ethic, his kindness toward the weak and sick and elderly in our world. We are proud of the kind of leader he is and the way he takes charge and takes responsibility. He is our second child and first born son and we are so proud.

He has always made us proud just by being himself; intense, compassionate, focused and stubborn.

I like to say that most of what I have learned about parenting his seven siblings I learned from him.  There is a lot of truth to that statement. I needed to learn how to be consistent and focused and to rely on the Lord and so our good Heavenly father sent our family a little boy who needed consistency and prayer.

He was such a delightful little boy. He was such a boy! Such fun!

He didn’t learn to read until he was almost thirteen. We knew he was smart and he was always learning but the reading came hard.

I would lay in bed at night and wonder what am I doing wrong? How have I failed my son? And I would pray. Wow…would I pray!

I think of him graduating from his University this weekend and how he has worked his way through school and still made the Dean’s list…and I remember.

We enjoyed books together, reading aloud for hours each day. His vocabulary was incredible. He studied God’s amazing creation with his bird book and binoculars and he was always learning. He raised goats and loved his dog; a beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback who worshiped the ground he walked on.

He was able to read short, one syllable books very laboriously by the time he was eight and felt frustrated that he was reading “baby” books. I tried to reassure him that I knew he was far smarter than that “little practice book” but still…. I lay awake at night and prayed.

I reminded him that his grandfather was smart. His grandfather had gotten his Ph.D. from Yale and he didn’t learn how to read until later.  See? (I told him) You’re smart…you’ll learn how to read!
But, at night in bed,  I worried and prayed.

And then…  it happened! He began to read! In the middle of his 12th year my boy got it! He very quickly jumped to an adult level of books and read and read and read!

And I thanked God for answering my prayers.

The focus and determination that our son had developed all those years of struggling through his reading stood him in good stead when in the summer of his 18th year he decided he wanted to go to college and was accepted (FYI-did you know that you can pay extra and get the results of the SAT test back within 2 to 3 days? Ask me how I know;) .

With the same determination he applies to everything he does, he worked his way through college; working winters at Fed Ex/Kinkos and spending summers at a wilderness survival school for troubled boys (picture in your minds eye the movie Holes) where his patient determination as a leader has made an incredible difference in the lives of many young men.

He called from the wilderness survival school to tell me that he was surrounded by rebellious, angry young men; many of whom had been raised by housekeepers in wealthy homes and he thanked me for his childhood and for being there (pitter pat, pitter pat:).

He did very well in school but what really made this English major’s heart soar was hearing the high praise from his English teachers about his writing ability. All those read-alouds combined with his natural ability paid off in the rich imagery and language which poured from his pen.

And those long years of praying and wondering what is going on in that interesting mind of his? I now know the answers to some of my questions.

Our son is left-handed but right eyed but our bodies are designed to be dominant all the way down one side (thus, he should have also been left eye dominant, left foot dominant and left ear dominant).

Because our son had mixed dominance it caused the brain to have a hard time retrieving information that it  had thoroughly learned previously (btw-if you have a child who has letter reversals it means that he has not established dominance yet. Don’t let your child be diagnosed as dyslexic without having him tested by a neurodevelopmentalist who gets to the root of the problem-the link is also found in my sidebar). 

What happened to cause our son to overcome this problem and learn to read? The brain eventually compensated because the brain is plastic; it can be stimulated in such a way that one part can take over for another.

Reading aloud had been a great stimulation for his brain all those years ago (although I didn’t know it at the time)…and it helped him to compensate for the mixed dominance.

I take very little credit for his scholastic success. I look back at the eager little boy we had the blessing of teaching and training and I see the hand of the Living God on his life. His father and I stand in humble amazement at the giftedness of this young man and we know that God will continue to use him in a mighty way to impact a hurting world.

Our son is graduating with a hard won Bachelor of Science degree…and we are so proud.

Congratulations Phillip Chandler Farris!

love,

Mom, Dad, Lorna, Rosie, Hannah, Kealen, Noah, Abby and Patrick

(updated August 2012)Phillip is currently teaching English in Korea.

To hear my radio interview on the neurodevelopmental approach and delayed learners please listen to Blog Talk Radio with Judy Dudich.