Sunday, August 7, 2011

Siblings and Down syndrome

Tali, 7, spent the evening playing with Eon until he had to go to bed. Then she picked up her baby sister and said, "You don't have Down syndrome, but that's okay. You're still cute!" if she was consoling her. She also informed me that I should have another baby because she needs a sister with Down syndrome, too. :-)

These moments bless me. I love it when my kids seek out Eon to play with or just be with. They truly love him, which I knew they would, but they also like him. He is enriching their lives. He is very much included in this family. 

The bigger boys (6 & 4) have yet to really see him as different. They ask me occasionally why he can't talk, yet, and know that he has Down syndrome and gets therapy, but it doesn't change how they interact with him. He is always in on the action whether they are building tracks in their room or sliding down the stairs in totes.

Tali obviously knows he has Down syndrome. She finds it delightful! She loves to mother him and teach him new signs. He's her favorite hide and seek partner, too. If it were up to her, we'd have a dozen kids with Ds.

Ellie, 11, has a better understanding of it. She adores Eon and is very protective of him. She gets excited when he masters a skill he's been working on and gets frustrated for him when he struggles. She has developed a love for all people with Down syndrome and is very comfortable around people with any disability. She asks the most questions and is, therefore, the most knowledgeable about it. She stands by her statement made when he was weeks old that she will take care of him when we're gone. 

Mick is 14 and at the age where different is not a good thing. Yet, she is very practical and has a strong personality. At a time in her life where she could be ashamed of her brother and want to hide him, I watch her reach down to pick him up while talking with her friends. At the grocery store, when he loudly vocalizes, I see her shush him and then tickle his belly just to hear him laugh. When he kicks up a fuss at nap time, she often asks, "Can he please just stay up? He can watch tv with me." And then I watch as she settles him on her lap and turns on his favorite show.

Keturah, almost 9 mos, will never know a life without Down syndrome as part of it. She just knows Eon as the big brother who used to steal and throw her pacifier, but now just kisses her and brings her toys. 

My children amaze me. They have taken the changes to our life in stride. They accept Eon for Eon, mildly curious about the things that make him different, but fully embracing the ways he is the same. 

We are blessed.