The Strength of My Son Shown Through His Panda Project


The other day my inbox dinged with the announcement of a new video from my son’s second-grade account. One of the best things about parenting during this time in history is that there are so many ways to catch a glimpse of what my children are doing in their classrooms. I love seeing an occasional photo or video pop up in my e-mail. I love even more surprising my boys when I pick them up by saying, “Guess what Mom saw you do today?” I always make time to click on the photo or watch the video right away. I love having a piece of their day make its way into mine.

This time, the video was of my oldest son presenting his panda habitat project. It was a very simple video of him reading from his paper about pandas and showing off the box he put together with his dad. My son was so proud of that box. Pandas are his favorite animal, after all. He has one on his wall, four in his bed, and he even was wearing a panda mask for the presentation. I smiled big as I watched him share his knowledge of his favorite animal. But as I continued to watch, I also felt tears spring to my eyes. I watched the video once, and then I watched it again and again. Then I shared it with my husband and my family, exclaiming, “You just have to see this!”

Why? Because my son was reading aloud from his paper. More than that, he was asking for help when he needed it and trying again even when he made a mistake. It was the first video of its kind in three years. That video showed exactly why this eight-year-old boy is, for me, the best example of a hidden hero of faith.

Prior to having my son, I didn’t know a lot about students who had learning differences in the classroom and even less about students who had hearing loss. Sure, there were students with learning differences in classes I taught, but I didn’t fully understand what they were experiencing. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and more are often hidden challenges for students. These differences can be mistaken for behavior problems or laziness. They can be mistaken for a lack of intelligence as well. What I have learned over the past three years is that some of the most intelligent, hardest-working, and strongest kids I know have learning differences. The effort it takes for me to study for a test or make a presentation or write a paper is nothing compared to the effort it takes students with learning differences. The effort it would take me to listen for hours in school to directions and instruction is nothing compared to what it takes for a child with hearing loss. Yet, when given the right tools and a tremendous amount of support, what children with these differences can produce is nothing short of phenomenal.

My oldest son is my hero, because I never met another child who bounces back so easily again and again from everything that is thrown at him. He never stops trying. He never stops showing up. He never stops being exactly the person God created him to be. I hope that even a small amount of his dedication, perseverance, and strength can rub off on me as I try my best to parent him. I know that the eight years I’ve been blessed with him so far have increased my faith and shown me the real diverse magnificence of God’s creation.

Help children learn to recognize hidden heroes in their lives with 10 Hidden Heroes and the book’s accompanying activities.


  1. I have taught for 30+ years. Each day I learn something new, it’s a privilege and joy to help shape learning. Today I learned that the author of the Captain Underpants series of books was regularly told to learn outside the classroom as his ADHD disrupted learning for others. I love the term learning differences. I love the challenge of finding the key to open up an individual’s learning. Thank you xxx

  2. Your story brought tears to my eyes, (again). I love hearing about yours sons, but especially about your eldest. I would love to see his panda video- I love them, too !

  3. The headline told me right away that this was going to be another wonderful story in the life of your oldest son. And it certainly was – thank you, Gretchen. You’re obviously learning a great deal and I wish all of this had been better known for us retired teachers. Thank God it is coming to light now and thank you for continuing to share it through the actions and courage of your little guy. Wow – 3rd grade already!!! God bless.

  4. The time we spent with our kids, especially during their development stages, is the best investment we would ever make in our lives. It is through these times when we can help nurture them with love and allow the Gospel to be a central figure in their learning and development.

    What are other learning activities, especially during these lockdowns, that you would recommend and double as bonding times with kids?


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