It’s one of my new favorite sayings…because no one likes sad puppies. I know, I should be all happy and stuff during the holidays. I generally am – but because of this blog I’ve been forced to be more reflective.
On lots of stuff…
But lately – about my sweet Stelli. Tucker’s sister, Estelle.
I’ve already commented some about her – but I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.
She’s never been to a large amusement park – because it would be completely overwhelming to him.
She’s never really been on vacation for more than 2 days – because the upheaval in schedule is so difficult for him.
She’s never been to a concert – because I know the lights, the noise, the uncertainty of it all would cause a meltdown for him.
Okay – lots of us haven’t been to those things. But, how about these?
What are those pictures from? Christmas Greetings on Main Street. It’s just part of the celebration in our little town in Iowa. Why do these pictures make me sad? I have to make choices that I don’t like to make.
- Do I not go at all because I know it will be really overwhelming for Tucker?
- Do I go and leave Tucker at home (but take Estelle) leading him to feel alienated even more than he already is?
- Take him and cross my fingers that he does okay (the likelihood of that is minimal)?
I didn’t go. I also didn’t tell her about it – because she would give me sad puppy eyes. Guilt, guilt, guilt…
Last week was Stelli’s Winter Chorus program. Always a struggle. SO many feelings…
- I feel frustrated because he can’t just sit.
- I feel embarrassed because my 7th grader ends up sitting on the floor in back with his coat over his head.
- I feel sad because I end up watching him to make sure he’s okay rather than keeping my full attention on his sister.
- I feel angry because I have to deal with any of it.
- I feel anxious because I just want it all to go well.
- I feel ashamed because other people stare at him.
- I feel relieved when it’s over – not because she did a great job, but because it’s over and we get to go home.
So, it just makes me feel…well…like this.
It does…it’s the only face that somehow combines frustration, embarrassment, sadness, anger, anxiousness, relief, and being ashamed – like I just chewed up my owner’s favorite stuffed animal.
I hate it – mostly because I’m a choose your attitude type of person, but sometimes we just can’t. Sometimes it’s just damn frustrating and awful that I have to make these choices. I’m just sad that I can’t make it all work. I know it’s life and bla bla bla…but it doesn’t change the continued guilt and irritation I feel.
Last night at a family Christmas gathering I watched as my three bonus children (some say step, I say bonus) joked around and loved on each other. I looked over at Stelli and she had those eyes…longing, sad puppies.
It was at that moment that I realized something. She and Tucker have a great relationship…they rarely fight and always stick up for each other. But she doesn’t get to have ‘that’ with her brother. The conversation, the gentle ribbing, the thing that so many siblings have. She has a sibling…but doesn’t get that.
I also know that she has developed the kindness, compassion, and understanding that few 10 year olds have…but she [probably] won’t ever have that.
At least a couple times a year I ask her to write about how she’s feeling. She’s also a writer and last year she arrived home with this letter. The letter wasn’t to me – but to all of us. Regardless, I read it and then cried monumental tears. (Estelle, Age 9):
My brother, Tucker, has autism. It can get a little out of control sometimes though. Once you have it, you need to learn to keep it. He gets frustrated with me. But I know that he is just having a little meltdown. He doesn’t have horrible autism, just it can be hard to have a older brother that misbehaves. It’s really not him. If you dig down, he can be a sweetheart. But on the other side, he is big and strong. He knows how to handle it. It’s just once and awhile he loses his temper. That’s normal to me. I really don’t care. But if he hurts himself, I try to stay away. I’ve only gotten hurt at least twice. I forgive him because I feel like he cannot control his action. It’s never like I just walk away. I try to do something about it. I’m only being bossy because I know that thing will make him angry. He doesn’t understand yet. He also think I don’t know the meaning of life. That hurt me a lot.
I also laughed through those tears…I would really like to know the meaning of life. It’s a question I’ve been wondering for about 38 years.
So, yesterday when I said one of the greatest gifts you can give is to support the neurotypical sibling – this is why. No one likes sad puppies – and really, most of all – this may be where we need the most support.
I can handle my own yuck.
I can handle his yuck.
What I have trouble handling?
The yuck I can’t really control – and yet I cause – the yuck this thing causes.
That is real hurt – real sad puppies.