“Momma…Momma” he said with some urgency. We were all sitting at the dinner table tonight when Johnny with a serious voice was trying to get my attention. “Momma….baby. Baby.” I look over at his little sister and she is having a real hard time keeping her eyes open. It was time for Daddy to the rescue helping our daughter finish her dinner and have an early bedtime. We told Johnny that was really nice that he noticed his little sister needed our help and he was being a really good big brother. Truth be told it made me smile inside that he did it so naturally like he does this everyday.
When his little sister was a baby he was curious but not overly affectionate. He’d play near her and observe her but not really interact with her. I would show him how to be gentle with her and to help her find her soother when she would drop it. It became his job to “pop” it right back into her mouth which he would think was really funny. Especially when he would grab it and see what would happen if he put it in his mouth.
As the months passed and his little baby sister no longer stayed in one place but was starting to crawl around our world everything changed for Johnny. Wherever he played there she was. If he played firetrucks, his baby sister was crawling over him to get to them as well. This was challenging because of Autism, Johnny would like to have his time where he was not interacting with anyone and turning his back on us and here was this little feisty baby girl determined to be part of the fun. We realized then that she was going to be the best medicine and therapy for him. At 22 months old, she refuses to let him get away with anything and will literally pounce on him if he grabs one of her toys. Its HIS name she calls for when she wakes up in the morning. Not Mommy…not Daddy..but Johnny.
If I had to put a finger on when their relationship began to change I’d have to say it was when Johnny was off of school for Christmas holidays. The first few days there was lots of sibling upsets as they grew accustomed to being around each other so much but by the second week they started playing together. Chasing games, cuddling on the sofa, reading books together, playing with toys in Johnny’s room for extended period of time “together” and sitting in front of the T.V. watching cartoons…”together.”
Before if Johnny got something from the kitchen he would only think of what he wanted. Now he is make sure that he gets her one of what he is having but he chooses a flavour that he feels that she would like. When he comes home from school the first question he has is “baby?” and he’s usually happy when he hears that she is not napping but waiting for him.
It is the sweetest thing to see them hugging each other and seeing Johnny show real concern when she is crying. It is so new seeing him get upset when his little sister stops playing with him because she is tired or wants to play something else. I think when I saw him try and wipe away the tears on her face because it made him sad to see her cry….I started to cry because I was so happy. My little girl has a big brother.
Edit : This morning really early I heard our daughter saying “Johnny” really loud and I called out for her to back to sleep. I heard the flutter of little feet on the hard wood floor. She sleeps in a crib still. It seems that big brother wanted to play:)