Posts Tagged ‘siblings’

Sibling woes

We insisted that my daughter go to my son’s 5th grad graduation. After all, her brother went to her Girl Scout ceremony.  That’s what we do.  We support each other by going to each other’s events and celebrating milestones.

She was not happy to be at the school after being there all day and all week.  She was done with a capital D.  She sat on the floor and sucked her thumb.  (Wish she’d give that up!)  She said loudly that the singers were stupid and that the music was lousy.  She didn’t care that her brother got an award, and even ripped his name out of our program.  She asked for a piece of paper and a pen to draw.  She wrote me a note that said, “I hate you.”

I don’t know if she was hot and tired (the school has no ac in the record heat!), or jealous of her brother’s attention, or dealing with the busy-ness that the end of the school year was bringing, or all of the above.  In any case, she was miserable and we were, too.

Finally we let her go hang out in the lobby but she got a consequence of missing her favorite Saturday morning cartoons for not being respectful and polite.

The next day she had to clean up her room and skip tv.  I had a job interview, so Dad was in charge.  When I got home after lunch, she was still in her room.

At least she listened.

She asked if she could come out of her room, and I told her that Dad and I would have to discuss it and decide.  In order for her  punishment to end, she had to apologize to us and to her brother.

To us: “I was wrong to be mean to you and say I hate you and not listen.  Next time I will listen.  I’m sorry.”

To her brother: “I was wrong to disrupt your graduation and I’m sorry.”

We forgave her.

But on the lighter side, she did draw some awesome pictures saying that the loved her family and on good days she claims that her brother is her best friend. I guess we must be doing something right.I wonder sometimes if we do the right thing in making our kids attend each others’ stuff, or if we do pay too much attention to the boys and our girl gets left out. Balancing is difficult!

How do you know when you are doing the right thing?

Time out

This is one of those times I’m going to take a break from talking about autism.  This time it’s about my dear daughter.

My daughter was in a grumpy mood this morning.  There was a 2-hour delay for teacher in-service, and she really wanted to stay home all day, I think.  Plus, she wanted me to make her breakfast (a peanut butter and jelly on toast), she wanted to eat her sandwich in front of the tv, and she wanted me to pamper her, all while she laid on the couch under her soft blankie.

I informed her otherwise. She had to make her own sandwich (working on stepping up the self sufficiency), no eating messy sandwiches in front of the tv, and no pampering… not this morning, anyway.

She proceeded to be very angry with me and yell, stomp, tell me that she’s tired of dealing with me, I never do what she wants me to do. (She sounded like a mini version of her 15 year old brother.)  I managed to keep my frustration under control and calmly sent her up to her room for a  time out.

As her time out was coming to an end, I started to go upstairs to her room, where she was hopefully simmering down.  I heard her bedroom door slam shut.  As I approached her door, I had to stifle a laugh. On her door, which we had previously painted with dry erase paint, she had drawn a picture:

Photo by Elizabeth Givler

It’s an angry stick figure with the words “I am not happy” written above.  I refrained from laughing loud and went to my room to laugh quietly by myself.  Then went back to take a picture :-).  Here’s a close up view:

Photo by Elizabeth Givler

I knocked on the door, she let me in, and we talked.   I explained that since she’s 7, she can make her own sandwich.  Sometimes responsibilities mean that we have to give up something we want to do for a little while in order to do what really needs to be done.  She thought about that, and then we hugged.  She changed the picture:

Photo by Elizabeth Givler

She erased the word “not”, and added a pink smiley face.  After all, pink is her favorite color!

I realize this post isn’t about celebrating the differences.  It is about family life.  I do want to point out that I think she got this idea from our feeling chart on the fridge.  We used to use something similar to help the boys understand feelings.  Meg now likes to gauge her own feelings on the feeling chart.  And she let me know in no uncertain terms how she felt by drawing a demo.

I wonder if this could go along with “inclusion.”  Sometimes, or dare I say most of the time, the things we use to help those who have “disabilities” are beneficial for all people.

How are you feeling?

Sibling love part 2: Did the aliens take my boys?

Who are these boys and where are my sons????

I thought that my boys tolerated rather than liked each other.  They are both on the autism spectrum but they are so different.

Philip is mathematically and musically oriented– it goes with his perfectionism. Josh has little tolerance for math, likes music but doesn’t want to read the notes. There are more pressing things to be perfectionistic about. (Perfectionism, although in different areas, is definitely a common trait with those two.)

They both like diy stuff but in radically different ways. Philip likes to make the tools talk and act like the ones on Handy Manny.  Josh wants to go into construction.  At 2 years old, he knew the names of all Dad’s tools and helped Dad build a small wooden trailer.  When he’s stressed, he grabs his tool box and scrapwood and pounds away building interesting objects.

Philip doesn’t mind that he’s a loner. He’d rather be alone most of the time. He was one of those kids who had a problem with eloping (hee hee… when I first heard that term I pictured him eloping to Vegas… but not that kind of eloping, of course). Josh likes being with people. When he first moved in with us 6 years ago (he’s my stepson, but I claim him as my own!), he was always two steps behind me.

Philip’s room is neat.  Josh’s room… well, we haven’t seen the floor in a while. When they shared a bedroom it wasn’t pretty.

And so on and so forth.

So today, when I heard this exchange, I was taken aback. For two boys who have communication issues, this was major.  I was so glad I heard this when they were unaware that I was listening.

Josh: “Sorry, Philip, I have to go to school now. I’ll miss you and I love you.”

Philip: “Well, I love you and I’ll miss you too.”

Josh: “You’re the greatest brother in the world.”

Admittedly, Josh did have a sarcastic tone, as most teenagers that I know. Being somewhat skeptical, I considered that Josh might have been joking.   But then again…

This is just one more example that there is more than meets the eye, especially with kids on the autism spectrum: feelings that aren’t voiced, words that aren’t expressed, real human beings behind the stims and the “off” behaviors.

Knowing this lightens my load.  Sometimes I don’t give my kids the benefit of the doubt, and sometimes I get burned out and way too skeptical.

Today– I feel that maybe, just maybe, we have a “normal” family!  🙂

Sibling love

Today I received the most beautiful photos of my family. They showcase the love that my kids have for one another.

Let me back up for a sec. My friend and fellow “autism mom” is learning to be a photographer.  Well, actually, I think she already is a talented photographer, but she’s taking classes to get the “credentials” (oooh, aaah).  This past fall she took a film photography class and asked if my family would be willing to be the subject of her portfolio.  As the humble mom that I am (ahem…) I said, “Of course!”

Her project for this semester was named “sibling love.”  In it, she had 3 pictures.  One of Philip (10 year old, has autism), one of Meg (6 year old, no diagnosis), and  a picture of Philip and Meg sitting in the tree in our front yard and smiling at one another.  My heart just melts!

Meg is Philip’s best “play therapist.”  She is the one person who relentlessly taught him to pretend:  acting out stories they see on tv or read in books, and running  like a horse, among many other things.  She is his partner in crime when it comes to ganging up on Mom and Dad.  She is the dancer when he plays his keyboard.  She is his translator.

She adores her oldest brother, too, especially now that he has a tv in his room.  They want to have “movie nights” and try to sneak in the not-allowed-except-in-the-dining-room snacks that they love to eat.  She is his cheerleader and defender.

She is trying to figure out the world right now and is wrestling with the autism thing.  She recently said to me, “Philip has whole autism, Josh has half autism, and I have no autism…. right?” Right, honey! Her explanation of the differences on the autism spectrum are as good as any others I’ve heard lately.

I am so grateful that she loves her brothers.  I am so grateful that she sees the gifts in them.

Although I do worry sometimes that Meg doesn’t get enough attention from Mom and Dad and that, as a sibling of two autistic brothers, she has quite a heavy load to bear, I celebrate the wonderful of her love for them (and vice versa), and how they’ve grown because of her (and vice versa).  I often witness her acceptance of others outside of our family who are different.  She is growing into a compassionate, accepting, loving person.