Sunday, February 1, 2015

The sibling connection

Lately conversations with Alvin's little sister Elliot have gotten a little more serious. She has started to ask more questions about why Alvin is the way he is and why he sees certain doctors. She tells me sometimes in the car how she wishes we could go places all together but knows we can't because of how Alvin will act.

Tonight was another one of those moments. While tucking her into bed she asked me why Alvin won't go to camp with her at The Little Gym. I explained to her that years ago when he was in class there some of the kids picked on him. The teachers did what they could but in the end Alvin had his feelings hurt and hasn't wanted to go back since.

Elliot's first response to this was a very simple comment that she wishes she could do class with him because she wouldn't let the kids pick on him. She would make sure he was ok and having fun. She then told me how she was going to tell him about all the great things that happen at camp and how she would be there for him to make sure no one was mean to him and that would make him go to camp and have fun with her.

The conversation continued for a few minutes and basically it came down to one common theme. She understands that we are all different, but her brother is just a little more different than others but that's ok.

Remember in all of this that Elliot is 5. She turned 5 in October and there are many days I have to remind myself of that very fact. She has nights like this where I am in shock. She speaks so clearly and with more compassion for other kids that are different. She acts at times older, partially because she is developmentally about a year or more ahead while Alvin is a year or more behind.

Don't get me wrong though, when Elliot gets around other kids her age she still has a blast and can completely act like a 5 year old girl in kindergarten!

Talks like the one tonight remind me why I keep her in mini jets at The Little Gym and why I let her go to camp. The gym and camp are at times her escape. She has expectations on behavior, but for the most part she can just be her silly self.

In the end what happened tonight just validates one of the things I tell people. Normally when someone finds out about Alvin they tell me how sorry they are. My typical response, I'm not. My kids (Sara, Elliot and Madilyn) are all growing up with this and have a much better understanding and compassion for people of all abilities than most kids their age. So while things are tougher for us than most, all of the girls constantly prove that growing up with a brother with a disability is nothing to be ashamed of or sorry for.

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