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Father of AHHHS! -Happy Third Birthday!


My son will turn three years old in the next month and we (yes, we) are preparing to start preschool. Much of this last year has been filled with visiting preschools, debating pros and cons and looking into what programs were available to us. Throughout the summer we have been mentally preparing Valentino for this transition by regularly talking about going to school, meeting new friends and having a teacher. It’s a very exciting time in our home, for sure!

Each year of growth from birth is marked by different milestones. How our children play, learn, speak and act offers important clues about their development. At Imua Family Services we use milestones as indicators for early childhood development. Not reaching a milestone might indicate the necessity for early intervention services.

Last week I made a point to visit a family that is enrolled in our Infant Childhood Development Program here at Imua Family Services. To describe this child as a miracle would be an understatement. This little boy has overcome many physical obstacles that many doctors were doubtful of. This beautiful boy, the same age as my own, has never left his bed, breathes through a tracheotomy and eats through a feeding tube. He is under constant provision due to seizures and has to have his trach drained from fluid. He has ongoing therapy, regular doctors’ visits, and surgeries and wears therapeutic braces to help his limbs grow. Yet his family continues to celebrate every achievement big and small. His third birthday was an unexpected miracle, but you would not have thought it when you looked at his loving family and support system, which planned a birthday luau.

I often get hung up on endless lists of parental concerns; what discipline methods should we use? Do we do the time out method or something else? How much screen time should we allow? Are iPads good or evil? Ensuring no GMO’s and on and on. I know that all of these considerations do mean something, but what I have come to realize the most is that in the whole scheme of things what matters most is what we make of the life we have, for as long as we have it.

Visiting this family forced me to take a moment and realize what I have and to simply be grateful. We all inherently want the best opportunities for our children; we want them to grow to reach their full potential in life, whatever that may look like for each child.  But while the boy I mention above and my son are in different circumstances, they also have one very important thing in common. They both are surrounded by family and a support system that loves them sacrificially. That single factor can catapult any child through almost any circumstance. There is an expression in the Hawaiian culture that follows “we all have our own stories.” and I believe it becomes about what we choose to make of our stories.

My father was born into a Cantonese Family. He was dispersed from his family at the age of 10 and came to America alone. 65 years later he became a single father, losing my mother in childbirth. My story is different from my father’s, and my son’s story is far different from mine however we all share the same lineage. At the core of my father’s story was the love and sacrifice made by his family for his future. The same sacrifice and commitment he had to me and my future. I too have that love and devotion to my son and his future. I was so honored to visit with this family this past week. I was reminded that the sacrifice and love that they have for this beautiful baby boy is what makes his future bright and that we should always celebrate the gift of the present.

-Dean Wong