It’s been a while, but life is so busy these days!! Luca is a busy 8 year old and his brother, Landon, is now 6 with endless amounts of energy. Most days are great, but some days I STRUGGLE!!
Parenting is a challenge in general, but raising two very different little boys is hard – one with “special” needs and one who is “typical”. The sibling dynamic between my boys seems to be getting harder instead of easier and I cannot wait for the day that it all reverses and starts going in the other direction!
Luca doesn’t talk, needs extra help with most things and has uncontrollable emotions. Landon talks non stop, tries hard to be independent, insists he knows more than me and struggles to control his emotions. It can be exhausting since they are very different, but they both struggle with emotional regulation. Luca’s frustrations come out as cries, screams, kicking and biting himself. Landon’s come out as mean words, sometimes hitting and screaming. Not as different as one would think, right? However, there IS a difference. Luca has autism and Landon does not, so Luca gets a pass. He just doesn’t understand his emotions and is unable to express his frustrations in any other way. Sometimes, I don’t even know why he’s upset. However, since Landon is “typical”, I’ve found is that there are higher expectations for Landon’s emotional regulation. I KNOW for a fact that I’ve been judged more times than I can count for Landon’s behavior. But here is what is often forgotten – Landon sees the way his brother acts and all the attention that comes with it and he has learned to model that in his own way as a form of attention seeking. Landon is only six, yet the expectation is that he react in a more appropriate way when he is upset. While he does know that difference between right and wrong, he is still developing and easily reverts to negative attention seeking behaviors. It HAS to be hard for him to see his brother getting away things that he gets in trouble for. Lately, he has been exceptionally mean to me. I am his favorite person in the whole world and I know that. I am has safe space. He knows I will love him no matter what. His frustrations and pent up feelings are all starting to roll out and I am his target. It hurts. It really hurts. What hurts more though is that I KNOW there is a deeper reason that he lashes out so easily. He’s still trying to grasp the differences between himself and his brother and is really pushing his boundaries. The stigma is real though. It’s a fine line that we’re walking with discipline. We will get there, I know we will. I continue to carve out alone time with Landon and remind him how special he is, enroll him in extra curricular activities and send him on play dates. He needs to be around peers and craves all the love and acceptance that he can get. But he also craves compassion too because he is navigating through feelings that many of us cannot relate to. He didn’t choose for his brother to be different. He didn’t chose to have a brother than doesn’t play and has different rules than him. But he’s learning and he can use a little grace while he gets there.
Being judged or having my child judged brings a mixed bag of emotions for me. Sometimes it makes me angry, but it mostly just makes me sad for the lack of compassion. Everyone is so quick to form an opinion, but they often forget to look at the big picture. As a society, we are so quick react and form an opinion without knowing all details. For example: You see a photo something on social media and you instantly make a judgement before even reading the context. We ALL do it. It’s just how the climate is in the world these days. Judgement before facts and 99% of us are guilty.
While I love Luca to pieces, I do tend sympathize more with Landon these days. Luca lives his best life and his little bubble is a happy one!! However, as I said above, most of us do not have a sibling with special needs so we are truly not able to feel the extra burden that likely comes along with it. The expectations of the typical child are unfair and I truly believe this WHY Landon lashes out and behaves the way he does sometimes. Do I like it? No. Do I understand it? Truthfully, I wish I has a better grasp. Do I get frustrated? You bet! Often I have to take a step back to gain control of my own frustrations before I have my reactions to poor behavior. Sometimes I fail and I just lose my mind and yell. Is this okay? No. Is it understandable? Yes. I am a work in progress too and I HAVE to give myself grace when my reactions aren’t as they should be. On the side, it’s SO incredibly difficult to navigate Luca through a meltdown and poor behavior. Thankfully, his episodes are few and far between, but when they happen, they HAPPEN. He is a mess and it takes a while to snap out. Again, totally different kiddos!!
Having a child with special needs isn’t something I expected in my life, but here I am doing the best I can. I am someone who has very little patience to begin with, so Luca has truly been a test for me 😉 I have come a long way though and I hope that eventually, there will be balance in my household. I know I’m not alone here. There are many families like mine and I’m certain you all feel this same heavy weight of judgement from those outside of your household. In the end, ALL kids need a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them. That’s what I try to give both of my boys. The best part is that it’s free! I would love nothing more than to speak to older children that have special siblings. I would love to get your perspective if you want to share!
If you feel like I’m talking to you after reading all of this, I probably am. Not in some passive aggressive way and not to anyone specific. Maybe reading may help give you a new perspective – my perspective. Maybe others can relate. When you don’t live it every single day, it’s easy think of how you would handle it better. However, until you walk in my shoes, please try to look at the bigger picture. We are ALL doing the best we can in a world that gets harder every day. Be kind and have compassion. I’ll be working on to be more compassionate as well!