Today is just one of many days when I noticed some more of J’s wee quirks and difficulties. Often days are so busy that they pass without always having time to notice or reflect, but I’m trying to notice more and to reflect and see how we can help him in his development and progress.
For any child I’m sure it’s a big deal and a bit of an upheaval becoming an older sibling. You are no longer the only one or no longer the youngest. You need to share your space, time and parents with other beings and you no longer get to have the overall or final say in things. I don’t remember much about it as I was young when my siblings arrived. It’s hard enough when you’re older and are able to understand that sharing is necessary and that siblings are actually good things; people you can grow to rely on, have fun with, talk to and cry/moan with.
When you’re young siblings can be fun too. Someone to run around with, get into trouble with, play games with and generally get up to no good alongside someone else – thus sharing the trouble and the telling offs! I always wanted to have more than one child, wanted them to have a person or people to grow up with and share the joys and sorrows of life with. We are very lucky and blessed that we were able to make this happen and now have 3 wonderful kids, who will hopefully be there for each other through life’s ups and downs. This is more of a wish for me given J’s difficulties and I hope that as they grow older my other two will love him and look after him, include him and care for him and just be the support he needs as he makes his way along the bumpy path of life. I hope to instil in them a deep sense of love, care and responsibility to look out for him, to stand up for him and to be his friends as well as his siblings.
All of that aside I think about what it means for J being a big brother. He is the oldest sibling and usually that would bring it’s own sense of responsibility and status. It makes me a bit sad that he’s never likely to feel or experience that. For the most part he always seems happy enough and at times slightly indifferent towards his brother and sister. He goes about his own business and pays them little notice. Other times they get in his way and he isn’t slow in letting them know. If they have his toys or are in his space they find out very quickly and often in a not too friendly way! We are trying to help him control this and to realise that they are younger and smaller than him so he can’t just push them out of the way, bash them or knock them over. He’s becoming a little more aware of this and at times we catch him trying to do it sneakily when he thinks we’re not looking.
As they get bigger I’m sure they will stand up to him and put him in his place. B already tries this, though often ends up running away or crying as a result! W just looks at him with a mixed look of surprise and wonder on her face, sometimes a petted lip. We can only persevere in trying to show him how to be gentle, patient and how to share.
Other times he surprises us and is very aware of them, very gentle, caring and loving. He helps them and tries to look after them or lets us know that something is needed or something’s not as it should be. Just tonight he gave W back her bottle when it fell down beside her in her swing. He sometimes cuddles B or pats his head when he’s upset. Once he even gave W a dummy because she was crying. For those of you who know J this is a major thing. Usually he would steal a dummy from wherever he could find it and sneak off to suck it before we can find him and remove it! I suppose when I think about it, this is his way of being their big brother. In his own way (and sometimes on his own terms) he’s looking after them, carrying out his duty to help them. He just does it as best he knows how. It makes me both sad and proud. Sad that he might not ever be able to be the ‘big brother’ and proud that in his own little way he still tries. My kids are all going to have their own responsibilities to bear and goodness knows there’s time enough in life for that to come! For now my big boy is bearing his in his own unique and amazing way.