When I think back on this past year, especially the past six months, I don’t know how Daddy and I could have made it through without you. This year most especially, you have been our touchstone of normalcy, our endless fountain of love, our constant source of comic relief, and the one person we could count on to be flexible with the endless changes in our lives. You have gladly stolen our focus from other parts of our lives and helped us to remember that with a little laughter and a lot of hugs, we can conquer anything.
You’ve turned into quite the silly boy. You really enjoy making people laugh and you are always checking to see if people are smiling. You adore being around other people and thrive on interaction with both peers and adults. Each night before bed, you ask me, “What are we doing tomorrow?” If I ever say that we have no plans, you are sure to prod me into making some, begging for playdates with a number of your friends. You love anyone and everyone. You are quick to make friends. In fact, everyone you meet is your new “best friend.” And you really mean it. In that moment, the other person is your complete focus and you strive to make them happy.
At times your silliness has been a challenge, when you’d rather goof off than do do homework or sit properly in class. You are the class clown, the one who takes everything a step further on the giggle scale. We are trying to teach you that there is a time and place for humor and that it isn’t funny to act less smart just to get a laugh. You have endless energy. You are in constant motion. You struggle to control your body and, at times, it really shows. You participated in a year of occupational therapy aimed at helping you learn to move your body and process sensory input. We bought you a trampoline, a hammock, and made you a tire swing to help you here at home. You worked very hard and we saw some improvement. But you continue to struggle. We have had some testing done and still have some more testing to do. But no matter what the results, Daddy and I will always fight and advocate for what you need. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to make your life as successful as it can be. And whatever dreams you might have, Daddy and I will help you achieve them. You are capable of anything you set your mind to and we will never let you forget that.
You are an amazing big brother, with a little brother who looks up to you so, so much. Reece follows you constantly. While you’ve found it annoying, you’ve also been so tolerant and kind and loving. Each night, you kiss him before bed and tell him, “I love you brother!” You have your spats as siblings do but you really do seem to understand that he is watching you, looking to your example every day. And you seem to take that responsibility very seriously.
You’ve suddenly decided you want to be more independent and are, at times, pushing us away. You are finding the courage to try new things that in the past you’d never even considered. You are also becoming more assertive. We’ve even had a few arguments because of your attitude. You like to ask “but WHY?” when you don’t get your way. While this can be challenging for us as your parents, I love seeing you find confidence in yourself. I also love to see you questioning your world. You’ve become more brave (if that’s even possible). The things that used to scare you (like nail cutting, haircuts, teeth brushing) you’ve begun to embrace as your own responsibility. In that, we’ve found it easier for us to accomplish the tasks together. You like to take on your fears, owning them physically, so that you can overcome them. We couldn’t be prouder of you.
When you were born, you defied the odds by being the baby who lived. Now at six, you continue to defy the odds by being the boy who thrives. Your life is an inspiration. Your attitude is infectious. We are so privileged to be your parents. Our hearts beat with love for you every moment of every day. Happy 6th birthday, Everett Zachary Bollinger.
Mama and Daddy