Life On The B Side

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

According to Ace June 21, 2017

If all goes well, courtesy of their father and step-mother, the boys will be the big brothers to twin sisters early in the fall.  The other day, Ace was talking about it and said “I hope the twins don’t get autism.”

I understood that he probably had a good reason for what he said but I didn’t like that he said it in front of Jay and explained to him that we never want Jay to feel as though something is wrong with him or that we don’t love him for exactly who he is.

It gave me the idea though that I wanted to interview Ace.  I wanted to give him a chance to talk without feeling the need to sugar coat or censor anything.  Our interview is posted below (with his permission) as well as a couple of notes by me.  His answers are in bold and my notes are in small print.   (If the formatting acts right.  It’s looking weird on my screen.)  Also, I selected the punctuation to try and reflect the way he spoke as accurately as possible.



What’s your name and how old are you?

*Ace.  I’m 10 years old.


What’s your brothers name and how old is he?

Jay and he’s 9.


What kind of things do you do for fun?


I’ve never been an interviewer before. 


Interviewee.  Remember there are no wrong or right answers.  I want you to be completely honest.  OK?  So, now, what kind of things do you do for fun?

 Sometimes I watch videos or play video games.  I also like to build Legos and on occasion, I read for fun. 

(I love that he said “on occasion”.  It sounded so grown up. )


What kind of things does your brother do for fun?

He likes to watch videos.  Right now, mostly Garfield episodes and then he makes them in book form.  He also plays Roblox.


What do you guys enjoy doing together?

*Long pause*

We play with Legos or other toys.  Like animal toys.  And we act out our own stories.


What have you taught your brother?

That’s a hard one.  I can’t really think of anything.  I did help him to get better at speaking.  Like, I correct his language when he says things the wrong way.


What has your brother taught you?

He tried to help me to get better at drawing but I’m just horrible.


What kinds of things are hard to do with your brother and why do you think they are hard?

It’s hard for him to speak properly and to not get angry over silly things.  It’s because he’s autistic and his brain has a hard time knowing what to get angry about and knowing how to focus on what to say and how to say it correctly.


What can you tell me about autism?

I know kids with autism are really smart but they have problems showing it.  He’ll get better when he’s older.  He’ll still have it but he’ll know how to control it.


Can you think of a time you felt really proud of your brother?

Yes actually!  Whenever he tries new foods and when he completed his first book that he wrote I was really impressed.  It was really good.

Also, when other kids compliment him and his drawing I feel really proud of him.


Does your brother ever embarrass or frustrate you? If yes, how do you handle it?

No.  Well … kind of, sometimes.  When he gets angry and other kids talk about him it’s kind of embarrassing.  I don’t say anything.  I try to ignore it.  Now, it’s not so bad though and he gets over it really quick. 


Is there anything your family hasn’t been able to do or it’s been harder because of your brother?

I can’t remember where we were going but he got angry and started making the trip miserable so we turned around and didn’t go.  Also, sometimes we leave places early because he’s getting mad and making it miserable for everyone.


Do you feel like you get less attention than your brother?

No.  I feel like we get equal amount.


Do you feel like you each get enough individual attention from your parents?

Yes.  You do a good job.  Don’t change a thing.

(That was nice to hear because it’s one of the things I have long worried about.)


Do you ever talk to your friends about having a brother with autism?

Yes.  No mean things.  But like when we are at camp and other kids talk about how it’s not fair that he gets better food than us so I tell them that he has a doctors note and I try to explain to them and defend him.  Or if he’s throwing a tantrum and kids say something I tell them he’s autistic.


Do you have any friends that also have a brother or sister with autism?

No.  One time after I was talking about Jay, one kid told me that I would get along well with his sister but I don’t know why he said that. 


What can parents do to help siblings understand autism?

I think parents should be open and they should talk about things and explain why things are happening and what to do about it.  Like in case you can help.  Depending on the sibling I think they don’t mind helping. 


How can parents encourage more positive interaction between their children?

I don’t know.  I think we have a positive relationship.


How can parents deal with resentment and competition from siblings?  Do you understand that question?

Yes, I understand but I don’t know.  I don’t feel any of that.


If you put yourself in your brother’s shoes, what do you think he would say about you?

That’s a hard one.  I think he would understand how I feel and he would try to help me as well.  He would say I’m a good brother even though I am only nice sometimes. 


Do you worry about what will happen to your brother when you guys get older?

No.  Not really.  I believe in him.

(I LOVED the words “I believe in him”). 


Do you think he will become your responsibility and you will have to take care of him when he’s older?

No.  I think he will get a job and be able to live in his own house.


What’s the best thing about having Jay as a brother?

*LONG pause*

I’m not saying there’s no best thing. 


He is easy to tease and to have fun with.  Like, I can show him what to do and he will do it.


What’s the hardest thing about having Jay as a brother?

Dealing with his anger issues.  For sure.


What are the best and worst things about having you as a brother?

Having a brother who respects him.  But having a brother who bosses him around.  Like, I will tell him “take your feet off the chair” and like that.  I talk to him like he’s only 5 years old and I will do the counting thing like “One, two … “ when he’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.   


Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t asked you?

You only asked me about autism.  I want to say that having ADHD is hard.  I get distracted easily and sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep and I fall asleep late but then I am tired the next day. 


Is there anything else we can do to help you that we are not already doing?

No.  I feel like you know it’s hard and you understand what it feels like for me.  We have a lot of fun and even when you are hard on me I understand why even if I don’t like it.


Anything else you’d like to say?  Would it be ok if I interviewed you again some other time?  Maybe in another year or so?

Oh yes!!!  Maybe you can interview me and ask me what it’s like to have twin sisters.


*Both of us laughing*

Sounds like a plan.  Thank you for doing this.


A Kind Of Sleepover May 14, 2014

My sons share a bedroom and in that bedroom they sleep in bunk beds. Ace on the top and Jay on the bottom.


I was lounging in bed watching TV and writing a post about a hard day at the store when I heard a loud crash. It didn’t sound like a kid had fallen of a bed and there’s really nothing on a dresser or wall that could have fallen but something had fallen from somewhere and it was loud.


I ran to the kids room where I saw a big plastic hot-wheels cars case on the floor where it had not been a few minutes earlier.

Ace’s head popped up when I entered the room and he launched into:

Hi Mom, I’m sorry I dropped it but I was making room for Jay. I asked him if he wanted to come and sleep in my bed with me kind of like a sleep over and he said yes.”


Sure enough, there Jay was … In Ace’s bed, under a bundle of blankets and pillows. His head peeked out and he was wearing a smile.

I climbed up on the ladder, kissed each one on his head and went back to my own room.

They both stayed in that top bunk and slept all night.


It’s never easy to write about the meltdowns, but it was made easier that night because I knew I had this post waiting in the wings.

The “sleep over” that the boys had was just what I needed in that moment to feel better about the relationship that they have.


This “Big Brother” Gig Is Confusing June 11, 2012

Filed under: Life on the Jay train — The B Side @ 12:15 pm
Tags: , ,

We don’t put too much of the real responsibility of Jay on Ace.  It’s not his job to take care of or look after his little brother.  The last thing I want is for him to end up resentful or feeling like his childhood was somehow robbed.  He’s only 5.  Of course we’ve said “be nice to your brother, he’s younger than you” or “you have to show him how to do it, he doesn’t know” or “can you open it for him please?” or “come on now, don’t push him down the ladder.”


It seems though, that as much as Ace does help Jay, he has also decided that it’s his job to boss Jay around and even discipline him.  We often find ourselves saying, “stop, he doesn’t want to do that” or “give him a chance, he’s trying” or “let him go, he can do it” or “leave him alone, he’s fine“.   Invariably, when we say leave him alone, we’re met with protest.  “But he keeps opening the fridge” or “but he’s making a mess” or “but he’s playing with the cooler“.


It does get a little tiring constantly telling Ace to let Jay have some space to explore and learn for himself but I know he’s trying to be a good big brother and there are definitely times when I’m proud of him for it.


This weekend we were at a friends house for a BBQ and all the kids were playing water gun fight.  They decided it was fun for them all to choose 1 bad guy and have the other 5 kids chase that 1 with water guns.  It was a perfectly good game until it was Jay’s turn to be the bad guy and all the other kids started spraying him.  At 1st he was happy but then he’d had enough and wanted to stop.  Ace picked up on it immediately and started yelling at the other kids to “Stop shooting him, stop shooting him, he’s my brother.  He doesn’t like it.  He’s my brother. He’s my brother

They listened and all was well in bbq/children playing with water guns world.


I sat back watching (with cocktail in hand) and let it play out and I must say I was VERY IMPRESSED with Ace’s big brother skills.  Sometimes, he really does get it exactly right.


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!