The other day my 11 year old came up to me and asked if we could watch a movie…..just me and her.
After I told her I’d love to watch a movie with her, she looked at me and asked what I suspect was really weighing on her heart:
“Mom, could you and I startÂ doingÂ more stuff together?”
I’m not sure what made me stop in my tracks and instead of just handing my youngest daughter a “Sure, that would be great”, reply…..start up a conversation.
I may be older than dirt, but my Mom instincts still work.Â And alarms were sounding everywhere.
As I talked with my 11 year old more, I discovered that it didn’t matter WHAT we did, and it didn’t really matter if someone else came along for the ride.
Just as long as that other someone wasn’t Parker.
It’s not that this beautiful daughter of mine doesn’t love her little brother.
But she also knows that where Parker is, so is all of the attention.
“It’s just that he’s so little and so cute”,Â the 11 year old told me.Â “And everyone always talks about Parker and it always becomes all about Parker”, she explained.
And you know what?Â She’s right.
Usually, by 5, a typical little brother’s shine would have worn off.Â Â He would (in the 11 year old’s eyes) be just another kid.Â You know, someone to hand down the most disliked chores to as my older 4 did to her.
Alas, it doesn’t work this way when that little brother is not only medically fragile, but was also born with an extra chromosome.Â To an 11 year old especially, Parker’s shine is Never Ending.
While she’s been patient, she’s tired of it.
I’m not exactly sure what caused me to stop and take heed to my 11 year old’s query.Â But I’m so glad I did.
She wants to be the center of the universe for awhile.
A friend who also has a child with Down syndrome once told me of a study she had read.Â This study concluded that it is often the child just older than the child with the disability that often struggles the most.Â It’s that child who gets usurped from the coveted littlest kid spot, AND loses much of their childhood to the new world of hospital stays, financial chaos, and overwhelming stress.
I’m always telling my kids that I don’t love Parker more than I love them, even though I wind up spending so much of my time attending to his needs.
It’s now officially time that I put more effort intoÂ showing them.
I’m not exactly sure what it was that made me stop and listen, really listen to my beautiful blue eyed girl that day.
But I’m so thankful that I did.
PS:Â What do YOU do to make sure ALL of your kids feel included and valued?