The other day our youngest child, Peter, ran into the kitchen, excitedly tapped his hands on his head, and said, “Mommy, I don’t want my hair.”
I wasn’t quite sure where he was headed with this particular thought. It’s not unlike Peter to announce something that can utterly confuse me or make me spit out my coffee from laughing so hard.
Because Peter has always had some speech issues, it can take a minute to figure out what he means.
“Peter, I love your beautiful brown hair.”
“I want invisible hair.”
“I want invisible hair just like grandpa.”
As you probably have guessed from my six year old’s description, my dad is bald.
I was overdue for a little comic relief, and no one can do it for me quite like my youngest.
I may have been surprised and a bit overwhelmed when I found I out I was pregnant with him, but I now know there was a bigger plan at work. Peter fits our family so well, and he just makes me laugh.
Living in a family where one child has significant special needs can take a toll on everyone. Family roles that would exist anyway, become exaggerated under the stress.
Our eldest son, Tom, is the protector. Though we have given him no indication that this is his role and repeatably tell him that Lizzy has two capable parents, he worries over his sister almost as much as we do.
Lizzy, as well as being the child that has to deal with a brain disorder that still has no name and affects all aspects of her development, is also our princess. It is a role she takes quite seriously, tiaras and all. She knows her brothers adore her, and it shows.
Peter, the baby of the family, is our comedian. He is also the builder.
If Peter wants a rake that is his size, no problem, he will build it out of Legos. If he wants a guitar like his brother’s, no problem, just re-connect the Legos. If he wants to have a little fun with mommy, no problem, he has his Legos.
The other day I was playing my role as drill sergeant barking out the commands to get the troops out the door for school. I asked Peter to please go put on his clean underwear. I was thrilled that he just willingly went into his room.
“Here I am mommy.”
I turned around to compliment him on getting dressed so quickly and nicely. It took me a minute to realize that the reason my six year old had such a big smile on his face was that he “built” himself a pair of underwear out of, you guessed it, Legos.
Peter’s creation left little to the imagination as it did not cover the important parts one would like to cover with underwear.
I don’t know what cracked me up more, the idea that he tried to build underwear out of Legos, the fact that his underwear failed to cover one strategic part, or that he loved playing a joke on me.
To say our household can be stressful is an understatement. Our Lizzy’s special needs affect all of us. As if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, Lizzy has also had a bad case of Whooping Cough these last few months.
Watching our daughter turn red and vomit from a severe cough was hard enough for my husband and I to deal with. But for our two boys, watching their sister go through a tough time is even harder.
Not to mention that whenever one child needs more attention, it can be a challenge to make sure everyone is getting what they need.
As much as Tom has hated to see his sister suffer, he can express his thoughts beautifully. He can talk to Joe and me, as well as friends, teachers, and grandparents. He is wonderful at asking and receiving help.
But it’s not as easy for Peter. Words don’t come readily for him.
Instead of saying how bad he felt for Lizzy or even getting mad at her, Peter would tell Lizzy that her cough was “thumbs down” or “not a good choice.” I guess if those strategies work at getting his first grade class to settle down, it might work on his sister.
His ability to laugh easily and have fun with who he is can make the worst of situations a bit better.
“Elizabeth, that is a horrible cough,” Peter will say while Lizzy gasps for air.
Then he would look at me and say he needed a hug. He might even confess that he really needed to suck his thumb. Not unlike an adult may confess a need for a cigarette or a drink.
The last few months have been hard on our family. The reprieve Lizzy has had from the behaviors that can make her life, and ours so challenging have come to an end.
The odd behaviors that marked so much of our time with Lizzy are back. Hiding in closets, putting all the clothes she own on, screaming at the top of her lungs and speaking nonsensical word salads are all behaviors we had been free of for the past two years.
Yet through all the mess, I can’t help but feel grateful that we have the children we have. I marvel at their ability to handle the hardest of situations and show each other kindness and humor. When I want to curse the darkness, they provide a little light.
Everyday I get a lesson in love, humility, and acceptance from my children: The Protector, the Princess and of course, the Comedian.
And now for the winner of the My Memories Suite v3 Digital Software:
Using the very high tech system of writing the names on paper, putting them in a bag and having my husband pull out the lucky entry the winner is:
Rosann of Christian Supermom
Congratulations! Liz of My Memories will be sending you an email so you can claim your software.
A very special thanks to all who participated in my very first giveaway!! Much love to you all!!