Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Each one, Teach one June 13, 2011

My 2 sons couldn’t be more different.  Contrary to what some people say … I don’t think they look anything alike and they certainly have personalities as different as me and, well, Sarah Palin.  They do share some of the same interests, like trains and cars but that’s pretty much all boys I’m guessing.  It is quite amazing to me that 2 boys who come from the same 2 parents and are being raised in the same home with (as much as I can) the same rules can be so different.  It’s a good thing though. 

Lets see … Ace is chatty, energetic, curious, smart, friendly, loving, funny, a people pleaser, bribe-able, trusting, helpful, entertaining, wild, loud, whiney, too trusting, clumsy, needy and inappropriate at times. 

Jay is cautious, strong, happy (usually), playful, coordinated, independent, self-assured, creative, inventive, obedient, non-verbal, moody, anti-social, picky, inflexible and oblivious to a lot.

Notice anything?  Almost all of Ace’s positives are Jay’s negatives and vice versa.  I never really looked at it this way before.  This weekend we had the unusual pleasure of having no plans.  Nowhere to be.  Nothing to do.  We stayed in a lot and just hung out with each other.  I spent all weekend absorbing my children.  The good, the bad and the … nope, there’s never any ugly.  J


When we’re home Ace really takes on the role of big brother and he takes it very seriously.  We never wanted him to grow up resenting Jay or feeling like we put unrealistic responsibilities on him so we never enlisted his help to take care of Jay.  Maybe that was easy for us since they’re only a year apart but it was important to us that he not feel obligated to Jay.  The fact that he organically WANTS and CHOOSES to help is glorious.  This weekend Ace decided to help Jay put his shoes on.   Ace pointed to Jay’s foot and said “What’s this Jay? Say foot”.  Jay then said “oof.” “Good job” praised Ace then took the shoe and said “What’s this?  Say shoe“.  Jay said ”oosh”.   Jay responds to positive re-enforcement.  He likes to be cheered on and to be recognized for his efforts.  And boy is Ace good at dishing it out.  Ace wasn’t the quickest shoe putter-onner but Jay quietly and patiently sat there until Ace managed to get both oosh’s on.  Yes folks, if there’s any talking to be learned, I believe Jay will learn it from Ace as much as from any other source.  I’ve told you before that this kid, even though I know he loves me, doesn’t mimic me or the things I say.  If Ace is who he chooses to mimic, I’m ok with that.  I’ll take a step back and give them their space. 


Ace is needy.  OMG is he needy.  He can’t do anything himself.  He always needs me to be paying attention to him or to do things for him.  If he doesn’t have someone to play with he doesn’t know what to do with himself.  Really it’s quite interesting to see.  He will stand there looking totally lost because he simply cannot play by himself.  He should take a page out of Jay’s book.  Jay wanted to play ball (catch) the other day and instead of bugging someone else to play with him he started playing with the wall.  He bounced the ball off the wall and played catch by himself.  There is no way in a million years that Ace would ever think about that, much less actually do it.  Apparently their room got a little chilly 1 night and in the typical Ace way he called CC so he could come and fix the problem for him.  What did CC find when he went into the room?  Jay had taken 3 pillows and built himself a wall.  He had barricaded himself into the bed so the breeze from the fan couldn’t get to him.  Again, no way in a million years that Ace would ever think of doing that.  Not when he can just call for Mummy or Daddy instead. 


When we’re out, Jay religiously, without question, seeks out my hand to hold.  He will not go anywhere unless I’m physically attached to him.  (I love it and I know how lucky I am especially in this autism world where so many children do not find comfort in their parents arms).  Ace on the other hand is always running ahead or getting distracted by something or being so busy singing and dancing that he loses track of where we are.  I’ve seriously thought about getting him one of those back-pack leash things but I just don’t have the belly to do it.  CC and I both worry about losing him.  I’ve gotten the “talk” a couple times already about making sure to keep an eye on him when we go toNew Orleans next month.   We jokingly tell people that Ace is so friendly, anybody could steal him but that even if someone tried to steal Jay they wouldn’t be able to or they would quickly return him because he would make such a ruckus.  But it’s not a joke.  It’s terrifying.  If only Ace would learn from Jay to stay with us when we’re outside.  I actually get tired of hearing myself say “stay with us”,  “walk with me”,  “no running ahead”.  In this instance, even if it’s autism that’s making Jay so clingy, I’ll take it over Ace’s happy-go-lucky-i-think-everyone-is-nice-and-the-world-is-a-safe-place attitude any day. 


Jay is such a sweetheart but most people wouldn’t know it.  He has a select few people that he shares his smiles with.  I worry about him not making friends.  I worry about him getting left out of things because he’s seen as being grumpy or a loner.  I worry about him getting short-changed in any way because he won’t/can’t speak up for himself.  He’ll be the one behind the scenes making things happen but getting no glory for it.  And he’ll be ok with that.  He is more than happy to linger in the background and make do with his own company.  CC and I are very vocal on Jay’s behalf.  We make sure that people know he’s here.  We make sure that he gets invited to events.  We won’t let him be on anybody’s back burner.  Ace does not need that help.  He makes his presence known wherever he is.  If he sees someone doing anything he wants to be a part of it.  I think his favourite 3 words are “what about me?”  There is no doubt in my mind that whatever there is to get, Ace will get it.  He’s a lime light kinda kid.  He needs attention.  He needs to be noticed.  Too much sometimes.   Too much a lot of the times.  I worry that people will think he’s annoying or a pest or self-centered.  Ace could stand to take it down a notch and Jay could stand to be more assertive.  1 more thing they each can (and hopefully will) learn from each other.


Jay is a better date than Ace.  The 4 of us went to see a movie yesterday and while Jay sat, with his 3D glasses on (I never saw that coming), ate his popcorn and didn’t make a sound as he watched the entire movie … Ace was Mr. Ants In His Pants.  He talked, and he moved around and he kept taking his glasses off and he spilled things and he talked some more.  If only Ace could learn that there are times when you need to be quiet.  Times when you need to just sit and relax.  Times when you don’t HAVE to be moving or talking.  Jay knows the difference.  Or maybe Jay has learned and it’s now part of a routine.  Either way, he knows that when he’s home he can run and jump and climb and be active but when he’s at the movies, he is to sit quietly.  He understands (or has learned) that different locations call for different types of bahaviour.  Please, can Ace learn some of that?


Ace is good at looking out for people and has the heart of an angel.  He wants everyone to be happy all the time.  He only sees the good in people.  He is sensitive and caring and hates it when people are mad at him.  If he thinks he’s done something to make me angry he immediately tries to make amends.  He tries to save Jay from danger by telling him not to climb on things.  He tries to save him from getting in trouble with us by telling him not to play with the light or not to throw things or not to leave things on the floor.  Even though he knows Jay isn’t going to help with the cleaning up he still prods him by saying “Come on Jay, it’s time to clean up”.  He really does what he thinks is best for his brother.  On Friday we almost got caught in the rain.  We literally ran across the street to avoid getting soaked and just as we got under the covering, Ace asked me if I was ok.  The genuine concern was all over his face.  I had to give him a hug and kiss and tell him what a sweetie pie he is.  He holds doors open for people and offers to help carry groceries.  He is considerate beyond his years.  If he sees someone looking sad he tries to cheer them up.  Not my Jay.  He has no concept or regard for other people’s feelings or needs.  This is something I’ve been working on with him.  Hopefully just by setting a good example, Ace will also show him how to be a more considerate human being. 


All in all, we could use some balance in our house and I think that the more my 2 boys grow together and play together and observe each other, they will also unwittingly learn from each other.  Win Win!


One Response to “Each one, Teach one”

  1. You have just described my twins. In many ways, they are polar opposites of each other — in looks and behavior — but complement each other beautifully. Isn’t it amazing how different our kids can be?

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