This post may be both me venting and asking for advice. There’s a lot going on in our family right now- as I’ve mentioned before, we are trying to move and create a more family/kid friendly lifestyle. The process of selling our home, which hasn’t happened, has been beyond stressful. And of course we added a new baby to our bunch less than 6 months ago. And while he’s of course a precious blessing, babies by nature don’t exactly ease an already stressful situation.
So, all that being said, the problem I’m writing about today may be perfectly normal considering the circumstances (or even not considering the circumstances). But I really don’t know, other than I’m tired of it and upset by it.
Since Nolan was born, Charlotte has been downright mean to (or really, about) Grayson. She tells me at least 10 times a day that “I don’t like GG, I like Nolan.” and “I like Nolan the best”. When Grayson retches, she screams and says “No GG, STOP- I don’t like that noise!” and when he’s throwing up and I’m in the middle of holding his head she’s whining at me about a snack, or to come play with her, completely unsympathetic to her brother’s pain. But to be fair on that one, his constant retching/throwing up is all she’s ever known- it’s “normal”.
The worst is when we are taking and picking Grayson up from school. Charlotte gets SO angry and that’s when the chanting “I don’t like GG” usually begins- in the car. If we have somewhere to go after we drop him at school, a lot of times when we pull into the parking lot of his school she gets hysterical. And she never, ever gets in the car in the afternoons to pick him up without complaint.
Charlotte adores Nolan. She will get him a blanket, diaper or toy when I ask, but never when I ask for Grayson. She loves helping me make his bottle. She asks me where he is every morning and has started playing with him. Of course, he gives her more feedback than Grayson does, but he’s also a lot louder. Strangely though,his crying doesn’t really bother her other than in the car, and she never acts jealous or upset when I’m nursing him or doing anything else just with him.
I guess I’m wondering why we have this sibling dynamic and what I can do to change things. This started right after Nolan was born and I thought it would be temporary, but it’s not getting better. I’ve tried talking to her about using kind words, I’ve gotten angry at her, and right now, I’m just ignoring her and telling Grayson I love him when she starts in on her chants.
And I’m also wondering at what age and how I start explaining Grayson’s disease to his siblings. I have a hard time explaning it to adults, much less a three year old. Charlotte has never said anything directly about her brother being different, and the few times I’ve sort of brought it up didn’t bring any meaningful feedback from her at all. But I do know she’s starting to realize that there are a lot of things we can’t do when Grayson is with us, and I’m afraid that’s really going to be damaging to their relationship.
All this is so hard. I so want our typical kids to love and protect their brother as much as Ryan and I do, but I also want to be sensitive to the fact that there are inevitable negative implications to growing up with a special needs sibling. I also think it’s got to be especially hard to be the brother or sister to a child with disabilities as profound as Grayson’s.
So…how worried should I be? Anything obvious I should be doing/saying to Charlotte about this?