We talk all the time in our house about how we’re a family and we have to look out for each other and love each other. It’s really meant for Ace. It’s really REALLY important to CC and I that he keep an eye on his lil bro. We don’t expect him to be his care taker (now or in the future). We don’t want Jay to ever be a burden on Ace … but, we want him to be nice to him and not get annoyed with him (even though Jay can make that very easy). We want Ace to look out for Jay. To speak up for him if it’s ever necessary. To include him in things.
We’d feel this way whether Jay had autism or not. They are brothers first. In a perfect world, that’s how brothers (and sisters) would be. They would care about each other and share with each other and laugh with each other and protect each other and keep each others secrets and gang up on the parents and cover for each other and fight each other but not allow anyone else to do the same.
It’s hard for Ace to relate to Jay sometimes though. (Shoot, it’s hard for us sometimes). There are definitely times when Jay makes Ace’s life harder than it should be. There are times when Ace doesn’t get the attention he should because it’s all directed at Jay. There are times when Ace has to sacrifice his own fun or toys or story time because Jay is just being so fussy and it’s easier for us (the parents) to reason with Ace about waiting till later to get what he should. We ask him to compromise a lot. It may not be fair but sometimes it’s the only way to keep our sanity.
I worry that Ace will feel resentful or bitter towards Jay. My worries may be baseless. They may not be. Either way I worry. I make a point not to let any of the actual responsibility of taking care of Jay fall on Ace. (Like, I don’t ask him to fetch things or clean up after Jay etc)
Recently Ace has fallen in love with drawing pictures and making cards. He usually does it when he’s at After Care waiting to come home or when CC and I are otherwise tied up so we can’t pay attention to him. It’s how he entertains himself. He always shows us the pictures when he’s done and is very proud of each of them. He’s actually pretty good for a 5 year old. He has a better eye for art than I do.
We noticed though that when he draws family pictures he always leaves Jay out. We know they are family pictures because the people are labeled. “Mom”, “Dad”, “Ace”.
This has happened quite a few times over the past couple of weeks.
It was disturbing. Did it mean something? Did he wish his brother wasn’t around? Does he just not care at all about his brother? Have all our teachings been in vein? What should we do about this?
The questions in my head were numerous.
I’d have to tread lightly. We need to talk about it. It’s gotta be addressed … but gently. He should be allowed to feel whatever he’s feeling. I know what it’s like to have your feelings dismissed and to be told that they are ridiculous and unfounded. I can’t do that to my son.
It’s been very busy around here lately though so I haven’t really had the quiet time I wanted to sit and talk to Ace. There were always people around or homework to be done or I was getting home late from work.
A couple of days ago, CC (who apparently is not insane and doesn’t have all the emotional baggage that I do) just asked him “Why do you always leave Jay out of your pictures? Don’t you like him?”
“Daddy, I don’t mean to. I do love Jay. But I don’t know how to spell his name. You never showed me.”
Oh. Oops 🙂