A couple of weeks ago, #1 Son turned 21. 21!!! How did that happen?! My birthday is 2 days after his – I’ve been telling him his whole life that he was the absolute best birthday present I ever got in my life. By the way, we do not actually call him #1 – that would infer a Second-in-Command status that is presently the job position of Left Brain… On this momentous occasion, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about what it’s like for The Other One.
There is obviously a whole lot that can be written on this subject (see earlier post, https://mypuzzledlife.com/2015/01/11/recommended-reading-part-2/). John was perhaps the easiest baby ever born – he was happy, placid, easy-going and slept through the night at 3 weeks old. We used to dine out in restaurants often with the baby seat beside us with no worry about disrupting other diners (obviously, not so with Henry…) He had a quiet watchfulness about him – as if he was observing everything around him before making any judgements – he’s very much like Left Brain in this sense. He was the little guy that everyone invited over for playdates. I never had to worry about him in new situations – he went with the flow. In fact, when I found myself pregnant again before John’s first birthday, there was no panic – we had this parenting thing figured out!! It was easy!! (Let me take some time here while I laugh hysterically at our innocent naiveté!!!!!)
When our life exploded with the arrival of Henry, he again, went with the flow. He was very sweet with his little brother, often making him smile and laugh. I have a video of John making faces at Henry, with his little brother breaking out in belly laughs – the camera is shaking because I was laughing so hard. And he would do this over, and over, and over again. He shared everything, without hesitation. I remember at the time, there being a lot of discussion about easing the transition when a new child comes into the house – about smoothing over any jealousy the older sibling might have. I have never seen that emotion from my older son – not to this day. Irritation sometimes (and well deserved)… but never jealousy at the time I have had to spend looking after Henry’s needs.
There were things that we didn’t do because it would have been too much – ski weekends, family movie outings, family vacations sometimes, family dinners to restaurants. The most notable family rite of passage that we skipped, was the trip to Disneyland. As I’ve said before, I think the #1 rule of having a child with special needs, is this; ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B. Sometimes the creation of a Plan B is too much work – there – I said it. But John never complained. He saw his friends doing things that we weren’t doing – and he never complained. As I said, occasionally, there was irritation. Around the time that teenagers start caring more about what their friends think than you, he said he was embarrassed to have friends over because Henry “did things”. “I understand,” I said. “Do you know how many times he’s embarrassed me in public?” I didn’t tell him that he was lucky because he didn’t have the same problems that his brother had, or that life was easier for him in so many ways than his brother. I acknowledged his feelings – John felt validated by that and accepted it.
As my intelligent, good-looking, funny, introspective, popular and easy-going son has matured, I am continually impressed by the man he is becoming. He is actually a lot like Left Brain, version 2.0. It’s no wonder I love and like him so much. I am amazed, as every parent is, at the wonderful combination that our DNA has produced! He knows that at some point, he will have to be responsible for his younger brother (hopefully, this won’t be necessary – but the story hasn’t ended yet and we don’t know…) He accepts it without resentment.
So, The Other One does not have a typical sibling relationship. There have been times when #1 Son has received the short end of the stick. But we are so proud of this unique young man. So, my darling boy, Happy 21st Birthday and congratulations on being who you are.