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Friday, October 14, 2011

2nd Thoughts?

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.  :)


13 comments:

  1. My son is my only child, so I have nothing to offer as far as the sibling thing goes, but Emma's love for her sister is wonderful.

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  2. When they connect all is right with the world. :)

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  3. Those are two gorgeous little girls!

    Autism is rough on the siblings- it's hard to watch. Every day our two-year-old tries to get her brother's attention and play with him, and it usually doesn't work so well. It makes you worry about the typical kid, on top of your worries about your kid with autism, and that gets pretty overwhelming.

    On the bright side, Emma sounds like an awesome big sister. I think you all are handling the situation well.

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  4. Thanks Christie for the words of encouragement! It certainly is a balancing for sure! We r very proud of Emma and how protective she is of Lily...and Lily loves Emma to the best of her abilities!

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  5. And that, *points to Leslie*, is the "my wife" person I'm always talking about!

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  6. AWWWWWWWWW. That's so sweet. I can't imagine either of my boys saying that, it would be more like "Hey, cool, I don't have to share ANYTHING for three whole days!!"

    (Hi Leslie! I'm Jill. Nice to "meet" you.)

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  7. There she is! Hi Leslie! The girls are beautiful in this photo. Emma is so full of love for her sister, it makes me tearful! Like Grace, I have no sibling advice to offer as my son is an "only" child (he has an adult 1/2 sister and brother on his dad's side who see him about 2x a year). I hope it all works out well for the wedding and Lily at the grandparents... if you still do it! ;)

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  8. Hello Karen and Jill! Thanks so much for the words of envouragement. We are fortunate to have two daughters who love each other as they do. We know Lil will have great time w/her grandparents...we will just miss her and being together.

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  9. I just LOVE her!!! How awesome is she?!?! So compassionate. My daughter is that way about her brother too. It really makes my heart smile. Hope your trip goes well :)

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  10. Yeah, she's a neat kid. Thanks!

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  11. Ben has yet to hit the, I feel sorry for Katie, part of life, and is still in the, SURE, leave her behind! part of life. He is younger than K, though. All the older siblings seem to be really empathic towards their younger sibs...it can be heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. Being that Ben is younger, it's a little different, I guess, which means, yeah, I suck and have no advice.

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  12. Oh... How sweet of her. For our family, it's our oldest who high needs, so I find that my younger son sometimes misses out on what it's like to have a Big Brother who watches out for you. It is what it is, and I try not to focus on what I THOUGHT things would be like, and instead enjoy what we have. But it's got to be difficult for a kid to have a sibling who is "different."

    Your girls are really beautiful and you sound like a really loving dad. :)

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  13. @Jen. . . I'm just happy you read it. I appreciate advice, but it is not required to be an active participant.

    @Tracey. . . she's the best big sister I can imagine for Lily. Very patient, very understanding. . . precociously so. I think in some ways her sister's autism has made some aspects of her "grow up" sooner that she might ordinarily have done.

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