SIBLINGS TO SPECIAL NEEDS
For a number of reasons, I am sure that Scarlett was made for Welles as much as Welles was made for Scarlett. I know that the teaching and guiding will go both ways. It already does. While she teaches him to try new things, to push himself and be brave, he teaches her to love more deeply, to have compassion and patience (still working hard on that last one;)). They both need each other so much and are a perfect match for the other. I feel so lucky that they have each other and almost wonder if either of them really need me!?
It all goes the same for sweet little Ames and his relationship with Welles. While Ames isn't even quite a year old, he has so much love in his eyes for his big brother. Until Welles body slams him, that is! All joking aside, Ames is so mellow, patient and loving. I have visions of how these two brothers will grow and excel together with an incredible bond. Watching Ames flap his arms and legs in his high chair while admiring his big brother as he dances around the living room to his favorite jams, it is clear that he is Welles' biggest cheer leader. He just lights up and giggles whenever Welles is in performance mode. It's a heartwarming sight.
Having a child with special needs can take its toll, for sure. I usually dwell on the positives on social media, because in all honesty, it mainly IS positive for our family. We truly enjoy Welles and his little differences that only make our family better. BUT, there are some little struggles involved in this journey. Lately, specifically, I often worry about my other kids and their feelings as their middle brother gets much of our time and attention. Not even just ours, but strangers, physical/speech/occupational therapists, doctors and friends all seem to give Welles a little more attention and love than our other kids. He steals the show most places we go and that is something we all love to watch. But there are moments that I see it's effect on Scarlett, even in the smallest ways. Thankfully she never takes it out on Welles or lets it strain their relationship. She usually takes it out on me to be honest. And I'm okay with that because I know she needs to process those little feelings that run so deep. Sometimes, when a therapist is over working with Welles, or a neighbor is stopping by and gives him some love, she interrupts to show them a trick or a toy. Any way to get their attention and sometimes it's by misbehaving and/or being rude. It kills my momma heart when I see this and deep down I am begging for them to just pause and give her a few seconds of love or attention. Many times they do and I usually say a silent prayer of thanks for that person who recognizes the love she needs to feel. Scott and I are very aware of the possibility of her and eventually Ames feeling a little resentment or frustration at times. While I'm almost certain that they wouldn't direct those feelings towards Welles, I want to avoid those feelings as much as we can. And I think with some healthy habits, traditions and talks, we can.
Scott and I try to alternate taking Scarlett on little one-on-one outings, weekly to a movie, out for ice cream or some other fun activity that she chooses. But let's get real, sometimes weeks are too crazy and those activities just aren't in the cards. On the more chaotic weeks, we do one-on-one activities like date night to the grocery store and make her the helper while shopping (she thrives when she feels like her role is important). Or a late night with mom and dad. Sometimes even just longer talks in bed with her at night give that extra boost of love that she needs. We take as many opportunities as possible to fill her little emotional piggy bank, often commenting when she helps out with her brothers or does a chore without being asked. I think finding something that makes her feel special, needed or important does so much for her self-esteem and helps her feel loved. Like I mentioned, she thrives when we give her an "important" role. So as often as possible I think of little ways I can make her my shadow and helper. Often times it's just having her help me make dinner, clean up after the boys or help Scott clean out the cars. I love watching her blossom with pride when she is given responsibility and then praised for doing well.
Our girl is amazing and so strong in ways that I wish I was. And we already know Ames will be the same in his strength and love. It's easy to sense it at just ten months old! We are so blessed to have such special kids but know that their individual needs and demands are very real. We try to be in-tune with them and shower them with love extra kisses. I'm sure that we fail some days. In fact, I know we do. But just being aware of the reality that is being a sibling to a special needs child has given me more love, patience and perspective for certain kids in our lives. When I see these amazing siblings of other buddies of ours, I want to go give them a hug. It's not always easy being the cheerleader.