Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 13: Big Girl

Today was another "Divide and Conquer" kind of day. Simon hung out with Brian: they went to the hardware store and watched football (Go Ravens!). Brian dressed Simon in a jersey, covered his cast with a purple sleeve, and worked on teaching him to yell "TOUCHDOWN" at the right moment. For a little game time "therapy homework" they practiced picking up and throwing a small purple football. Consequently, Simon has also learned the term "fumble."

Meanwhile, Olivia and I had an important date. Every month or so, Livy and I set aside a day to do something fun together, just the two of us. Olivia calls it "Mommy Day." (It melts my heart every time she says this). Today, she wanted to have brunch (her favorite meal) at her favorite restaurant, a funky diner in the city. Then, she chose to hit the BMA, which she loves for its contemporary collection. Today was the last day of a show of late Warhol works and she wanted to make sure she saw it.

The kid is in the second grade. Honestly.

With the holidays, and with all that has been going on with Simon, it has been a little while since I had a good heart-to-heart with Olivia, so we had a lot to discuss (aside from some remarkably astute observations on the Warhol exhibit).

First, she wanted to know if the bones recently found on a Pacific island belong to Amelia Earhart, and how you can tell if those are the right bones. I tried to explain DNA . Then, Olivia wanted to know specifically how I dealt with client situations where I was wrong, and was I ever embarrassed (she's had a little performance anxiety at school lately). We discussed the current book she's writing "When the Butterflies Leave the Earth," and how to get it published. We also reviewed the pros and cons of owning a parrot, and whether or not they can be trained to take orders in the cafe she wants to own in Hawaii when she grows up. She's pretty confident that they can at least be trained to bus the tables. She's probably right.

Then, Olivia wanted to know when Simon is going to get his cast off. I explained (again) the premise of what we are doing and why, and she does understand it. However, she still doesn't like it and she doesn't think that it is fair that we are making things so challenging for him.

"He's just a KID, Mommy." Wow.

Well, I should have seen that coming. Olivia has quite a history of defending Simon. When she was only four, Simon had surgery that left his eyes blood-red for weeks. When another child yelled that Simon was a monster (he was pretty scary looking), she marched right up to the much bigger boy and corrected him: "My baby brother is NOT a monster! He's a TREE FROG!"

About a year ago, Olivia asked us when Simon was going to grow up. She wanted to be able to play with him, she said. Her friend's little brother, who was Simon's age, was a playmate, and she didn't understand why Simon was different. She also told us she was sometimes embarrassed because Simon drools and still wears diapers. Apparently, her friends had started asking her questions she couldn't answer, because she'd never thought about it before. To her, he was just Simon.

We did our best to explain things in a general non-scary way. We emphasized that Simon is learning and growing, but that he needs more time and more help. We talked about how we, as a family, could help him and care for him, and how very important her role in that is.

Since then, Olivia has taken her role as protector and teacher very seriously. She explained to her questioning friends that Simon is different, but better, because he never fights with her, just loves her. (Her friend replied that she wished her brother was brain damaged, because he'd be cuter! kids...)

Simon does adore her, and she loves him back fiercely. If he needs something, she's often the first to help get it for him. When he cries, she soothes him (even if he is in time out). She plays his favorite games for him to watch, builds towers for him to knock over, and tolerates him drooling on her shoulder when they cuddle on the sofa to watch TV. Recently, when she had friends over and Simon stood in front of the Wii (again), and the kids yelled at him, she yelled right back that they need to be nice to her little brother.

Simon is lucky to have such an amazing big sister. She's got his back, even when it means calling out their parents. I couldn't be prouder.

1 comment:

  1. If there's one thing I love about my children most, it's their loyalty to each other. Thank you for sharing this story. It's great that you set aside a little bit of time just for you and your big girl! It's a great way to keep close.