Last night, while I watched Lily, my wife took Emma to baton practice. About 10 minutes after she left I got a text from her:
Wife: "Emma started crying about leaving behind Lily 4 the wedding!"
I wrote back "awww" with a little sad face emoticon, because I wasn't really sure how to better support the situation from home.
When they got home I was just finishing drying Lily's hair after her bath and getting ready to put her to bed. I asked Emma if she was okay because she looked like she was on the verge of crying, her big blue eyes brimming with (as yet) un-shed tears. The second we started to talk about Lily staying home for the wedding, the tears welled up and started to fall.
And Lily said, "Sisser crying" and hovered comfortingly, until I scooped Emma up and took her to her room.
She explained to me that what was making her sad was not so much that Lily had to stay behind, but that four days is a really long time for her not to get to see Lily. She's going to miss her. And as she was crying and I was hugging her, I damn near caved and said. . . "oooookay, we'll take her with us." I'm such a sucker for a girl in tears.
We knew Emma would be sad about not taking Lily with us, but we assumed (or I did) that it would be because Lily was missing out on all the good stuff (at least from Emma's perspective). I was all set to argue those feelings away by reminding her how much fun Lily has with her grandparents and how Lily would get to have three sleepovers in a row at their house, etc. But I wasn't prepared for her to just not want to be away from her. Although I should have been.
What I did argue was that because Lily wasn't going with us, maybe we could go to the wedding a day later, since we wouldn't need to break the trip into two legs. It helped marginally. Just knowing it would be one less day away from her little sister helped a little.
My wife went the extra step of sending an email to Emma's teacher and giving her a heads up that Emma might be a little emotional and could use some support from the school counselor if she thought it would help. She does have different issues to deal with than most 9 year old kids do, having a kids sister on the spectrum, and while the guilt and anxiety I feel over leaving Lily behind while "the family" goes off to Wisconsin seems pretty manageable, I'm not 9. And I'm sure it's harder for her.
Emma and I had a talk not long ago about how she sometimes felt sad that she doesn't really get to play with Lily like she thought she would when she first found out that she was going to have a little sister. I think sometimes I forget that Emma had her expectation of what having a little sister would be like too. And this isn't precisely what she thought it would be. I think having that expectation go unrealized has made her, if anything, even more protective of Lily; more of a responsible big sister looking after her little sister.
Today we (my wife) got a call from the counselor. Emma had a little breakdown at lunch time and her home room teacher had taken her to talk. I'm glad. I hope it helps her feel better. I know right now it's just making me feel worse.
But. . . there's a lot of love there. :)