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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Balancing Act II

Day 26 is officially "Balancing Siblings"...buuuuuut.  I think the person really meant balancing offspring.  Because I only have one sibling, my sister, and I don't really need to balance her on anything.  She's pretty balanced.  I lavish ALL my sibling attention on her, which is to say, not that much because she's constantly gone, and I'm a guy, and there's a bunch of stuff here to do...but ALL of what's leftover for siblings...is hers.




Okay, that said, I think this is more about balancing attention for your kids.  This isn't "special needs" specific.  More parenting-specific.  Any time you have two, I think you try to make sure that both children's needs are met attention-wise, but having an autistic child does complicate that a little. 

When I was first starting this blog I wrote something called "Balancing Act".  It was like my sixth ever blog post.  I didn't reread it, but I'm sure I'd be mortified if I did.  Go back and read about it if you'd like to point and laugh at me.  Anyway, that's why this one is called "Balancing Act II".
 
Okay, back to the topic at hand:  the difficuty of balancing your kids' needs.  The complication is this:  Lily needs more attention.  Franky, she doesn't even want more attention.  But she needs more, because without our attention...shit happens. 

So setting aside what all of the extra attention might entail, just take it from me, she needs more.  And so Emma will always end up getting the short end of the stick if we aren't constantly careful. 

This is something I feel really guilty about, but Emma is awesome at sharing her parents with Lily.  She's such an amazing big sister.  So she understands when Lily gets an extra turn on the TV because if she's not watching something she enjoys while we're feeding her, for example, then it makes feeding her more complicated.  What that means is...unless we really pay attention, Emma's turns/needs/attention get neglected. 

I mentioned it in one of the earlier posts.  Maybe it was the sibling post about Emma being a special needs sibling, but when I am not aware of whether I'm being fair to both kids...that is when I know I'm not being fair to both kids, because that balance isn't natural.  It doesn't just sort of 'even out'.  I have to pay attention to the balance at all times or it will shift in Lily's favor. 

Sometimes I talk to Emma about it.  I ask her to please come to me if she feels like she's not being considered or she's not getting her turns...but that's hard for a 12 year old.  Ultimately every minute I'm not conscious of maintaining that balance it tips in Lily's favor. 

Emma and Lily's relationship is so special.  There's really only one thing that can fuck it up...me.  I never want Emma to feel that Lily's needs supersede hers.  I never want that feeling to morph into jealousy or envy.  So this balancing act is possibly the most important thing I do as a parent to two children.

I try to talk to Emma about the attention she gets and how it differs from Lily's.  I explain that when Lily goes to bed we watch movies and eat popcorn, or sometimes we go off on our own and shop or go geocaching or play video games.  Those are things that Lily can't (at least not yet) participate in, and they're special for her.  I try to make sure that the things Emma likes doing are things that get done.  I try to make sure that the promises made get kept regardless of convenience.  I try to make the turn-taking even out.

Because although that balance is really hard, maybe even practically impossible, it is suuuuuper important.

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