Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love, is by far, the truest type of love. - Unknown
Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. - Marc Brown
Over the life of this blog, I have written of our experiences with the Little Man – from before his diagnosis with Autism over 4 years ago until our experiences de jure. Over time, I have made references to the 2 blessing in his life: his Older Brother and his Younger Brother.
On the morning I was preparing the L is for Lion post – (which seems like forever ago know by the way (curse you A to Z Challenge))- my oldest son pulled up a chair next to me. He read aloud every word I was typing, as it was being typed. He pointed out typos. He suggested words when I was mulling over the right one to use. He was so excited to get the camera and take a picture of the mangled Lion, and upload it. He just loved being part of it all. He loves helping his brother. That is the way it always is for him. He just loves helping and being part of it all.
I felt the need to explain to him that I write this blog about the Little Man so I can share our experiences with Autism, so that we can hopefully help some family, like we have been helped in so many ways by others.
I told him that I had something special planned for him too. When I get to the S post – today- I was going to post about him and the Younger Brother: The siblings. His eyes lit up and I could see the wheels spinning about what the post would be about. Siblings and Autism. He thought a minute more, before his face lit up and he said proudly: “Yea dad, you can write about brothers acting like mothers.”
You have no idea how much it hurts to write those words. Profound and heartbreaking. To think that my beautiful, handsome, creative, intelligent, determined, sweet, compassionate and loving 8 year old little boy will remember his child hood as being “like a mother” to his younger brother hurts. It hurts so bad because it is true. Over the years as we have come to rely on our other little guys so much all to help my wife and I keep it together: to act as extra set of eyes, ears and hands; to make sacrifices; to forego pleasurable activities; to forego trips to places; to forego things they would rather being doing; and, perhaps the most difficult, understanding why the Little Man gets seemingly preferential treatment.
Our children are the spine of this family - without them we are nothing.
I cannot pretend to articulate how special our children are, or how blessed we are to have them– I would need more than a single post- and more than an encyclopedia full of posts. But, I can share with you these two glimpses into how special they are:
The Older Brother
Perhaps a few weeks before our Little Man was officially diagnosed with Autism, I knew something was wrong- I just wasn’t sure what it was. I had many sleepless nights and was sad, scared and desperate. I had the Older Brother, barely 4, laying on my bed, and I was helping him change his clothes. I looked him deeply in the eyes and said to him – “Promise me, no matter what, you will always take care of your bother.” To which he responded “okay.”
A few weeks ago, I kiddingly told the Older Brother, now almost 9, that although he might not remember it, he entered into a valid and binding contract when he was 4 and he could not get out it. My wife and I laughed as we recounted to him the story of that “promise” he made 5 years before. He looked slightly startled and confused as to why we thought the story was humorous. “Of, course I am always going to take care of him,” he said so matter of factly. It was not even a question for him.
That was not the first, nor the last time, his huge heart has brought his parents to tears.
The Younger Brother
The Younger Brother is only 3 years old. Still practically a baby, he is so observant and tuned into the rhythms of our house. He is older than his 3 years. One of the most difficult things for us to try to convince him not to emulate the ISMS of the Little Man. Can you imagine the conversations? The Little Man comes, looks at us and says- “I want chalk” and my wife and I go overboard “Oh, that is so great you asked so nice.” The Younger Brother comes to us and says – “I want milk” and we go crazy in the other direction- “Where are your manners!? You don’t say ‘I want’ you say ‘May I please have.” (Yes, we are saving money for therapy).
In a very rare moment a few days ago, the entire family was seated in our family room watching TV, when the Little Man wandered out of the room. My wife and I have an unwritten 2 minute trigger- we do not want the Little Man unattended more than 2 minutes in any room. If he has not reported back in 2 minutes, we have to go check. Sometimes we ask the Older Brother to go check and report back, or to just go play in the same room. This day was different. After a few moments without the Little Man in the room, the Younger Brother got up, and made the dramatic pronouncement: “Guys, I go check on him. I be right back.” Only 3 and he is naturally inclined to take care of his older brother.
Brothers being mothers indeed.
We are truly blessed.
Exit Question: Why mothers and not fathers Older Brother? What are you trying to get at?