On the way home from school this evening my eldest son, aged eight, opened up to me and ranted all the way home. As insignificant as this may seem to others, it meant a great deal of importance to me. You see, he’s a special needs sibling, he’s also the eldest of his two brothers and he has learnt through trial and error, keeping quiet and staying out the way keeps him out of the chaos at home. It’s unfortunate and it’s uncomfortable to watch him saunter to his bedroom as soon as we get through the door, but truth hurts. The reality of our situation is that often he just wants to be alone, doing his own thing, away from the drama. I can’t say I blame him either.
One aspect of my being that I’ve always been proud of is my tendency to be proactive. If I see something broken or not functioning as it should, I fix it. If I can’t find the solution myself, I’ll source others who have been there, done that and brought the t-shirt who can provide me with the skills to move forward. I came across a local charity offering a SEN sibling workshop and thought it would be a great opportunity for us both to spend some quality time together. (I have digressed from his ranting but don’t worry we’ll get back to that!) The most comforting thing about being a part of this short weekly workshop, is being with other parents who are all in similar situations with their own children. Not only this but it’s given my son the opportunity to be with other children who, like him, often struggle with the reality of having a sibling with a disability and/or Special Educational Needs. The beauty of this opportunity is time spent solely focusing on my eldest, recognising his feelings and his needs, with him doing the same and I can tell you honestly, it works wonders. However I also felt consumed with guilt.
He was my first born, my first love, my first taste of motherhood and I loved every minute of it. Everything was simple when it was just me and him. We spent every minute of every day together and he was so advanced for his age because back then I believed you get out exactly what you put in. And I loved that. In recent years (more so months), I’ve felt as though he’s slipping through my fingers. He grows in confidence and independence with each day and for me it’s new and it’s scary. I’m used to my children relying on me for so much more. In the workshop we spoke about what it is that we love about our SEN sibling and this evening, my son, with his ranting and raving, demonstrated all that I spoke of. (okay so we’re back, I hope you followed okay!)
He told me that his usual teacher wasn’t there and that the routine had changed. He was meant to be on the listening post however when he brought this to the teachers attention, he was abruptly reminded of who is in charge and who makes the rules. My son explained how unjust he felt this was. I could see he felt as though he had been wronged in some way for noticing a flaw in his rightful expectations and reprimanded for questioning it. Thing is with my boy, he is not afraid to question the world. I admire that. He questions everything I say to him, even when I’m simply stating the facts. Stubborn and strong willed children aren’t easy to parent, he will argue the colour of the sky. My son wants to explore the world and find everything out for himself. He wants to debate and problem solve and come to conclusions from his own investigations. That scares an awful lot of people, especially those comfortable in their hierarchy who have often never been challenged. I love him for that, I do!
I reasoned with him explaining how of course he had to respect authority, be polite and courteous but how he had not done wrong to raise what he felt was an injustice against him. I informed him that in this world there are many people who live life going with the grain. Those who dare to go against it are rare and should be treasured. For they are the ones who are bold and innovative, they have the potential to become very successful and (because like most children his age like financial reference) RICH!!
I reminisced with him how, when I was younger I was like most others, I was seen and not heard, I did as I was told and believed those who told me what I could and could not do. I was confined by the boundaries others had set me in life. What I reminisced silently to myself is how this had also sucked me into controlling and abusive relationships. I explained to him how I can’t wait to meet the man he will become and how he should be incredibly proud to be exactly who he is. Unapologetically himself…
…Fearless in the pursuit of whatever sets his soul on fire!
f o l l o w u s o n