I enjoyed interviewing my granddaughter yesterday. Within a couple of days, she will become an older sister. As she intimated to me yesterday, she has wanted a baby brother or sister her entire life. She is afraid that she will feel jealous and that she wont know the right things to do to take care of her little brother. Her Mom and Dad have been very supportive as have her Nanna and I. Nervousness comes with the territory and she is a resilient kid. She’ll do fine, as everyone knows. I am so happy that she accepts that as a fact.
Her own life
One thing that struck me was her articulation of the need to have her own space. She said, “I don’t want Mom and Dad to expect me to drop everything to take care of him. Just because you have a sibling doesn’t mean you can’t live your own life.” This from an 8 1/2 year old.
My brother’s keeper
When I was a child, my mother often encouraged me to go out and play with my friends instead of helping with Mike, my profoundly retarded, autistic and nonverbal older brother. I often declined. I suppose that I bought my father’s line of thinking: “you are your brother’s keeper.” This was more an emotional appeal that an expectation to be his caregiver.
I have met people whose lives are untouched by mental or physical handicaps yet are entwined with their siblings’ lives. There are great joys in this arrangement as well as problems to overcome. For the most part I have tried to lived my own life, and certainly was never responsible for taking care of my brother. But, I was never as clear as my young granddaughter on this point. I am sure many siblings of special needs children find themselves facing the same dilemma: where does the “my brother’s keeper” role end and “living my life” begin?
In her vision of siblinghood, Sidra has drawn up some mental guidelines. I am very proud of her for that.
I will follow up with future interviews and, as in yesterday’s post, get her permission to share them with all of you.
By the way, she was thrilled to have her interview ‘liked’ from as far away as Portugal. Thank you (pre)concept. She enjoyed your comment too, Jill. Thanks again.