Straddling the Sibling Line

The Monster and R dressed for Pirate Day at camp, August 2017

Arrrr, mateys!

R’s in a fairly weird spot – he’s the younger sibling, but by nature of how profound the Monster’s Autism is, he’s oftentimes thrust into the role that a big brother would take.  It’s a lot to shoulder, when you’re five years old.

And… when given the chance, it’s lovely to see how he rises to the challenge.Let’s be honest – being the sibling of a child with Special Needs bites donkey-butt a huge part of the time.  It’s the question of how long his brother’ll hold it together when we’re out, or if there are other things that need to be scheduled around (ABA, or school, or things of that ilk), or if it’s something in the Monster’s behaviors that’s going to prevent fully enjoying something.  It’s not like the Monster’ll come along with him to play a game, or that he’ll necessarily even attend long enough to start playing and…

As I said, it bites.

BUT, one of the parts of this summer has been the fact that both children are going to the same camp, which means it’s one of the rare times they ride the same bus to the same place.  (R is going to public school in the fall, where the Monster’s returning to his non-public placement, so it’ll be different again in September.)  So it’s also one of those rare times where they’re both around the same people (at least those weeks when the Monster’s not been at school).  As part of how we divide things up in our home, I take the kids to the drop-off for the bus, and pick them up in the afternoon.

Both days this week, the bus counselors have been effusive about what a great brother R is.

They’ve told me about how R makes sure that the Monster isn’t wandering anywhere, and how he’s been helpful with making sure he’s settled on the bus.  How R makes sure that he has the Monster’s attention when he’s talking to him, and how he doesn’t get frustrated with his brother or the like.  And how they think it’s such a beautiful and wonderful thing to see.

It’s nice to hear.  I do worry that out of sight of us, he’d choose to hang away from his big brother, that he might see it as a chance to let someone else mind him, things like that… because R is five and being thrust into a role that’s certainly far older than that short span.  Aside from the fact that they’re clearly of different ages, you might mistake R for the older child simply from his attitude and vocabulary as he carries himself as a miniature adult at times.  But hearing that he’s stepping up and trying to be a good brother is very heartwarming.

But it’s also something we’ll always have to keep an eye on – R needs the time and space to be a kid.  And we’re working hard at it, be it the Sundays he gets to come curling by himself, or when he gets an evening out without his brother to go play with kids his own age…

Now if you excuse me, I need to get back to figuring out how to make it look like I’m taking him – again – to the trash transfer station to exchange him for a newer model…

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  1. Pingback: FoF: Savor the Blink | Dad 2.0 Summit

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