Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Things I Haven't Taught My Son

"Be careful, Jaycee," my son warns as she tries to unseat herself from a tire swing.

"Here, I'll hold it for you," he says as Jaycee takes one leg over the side of the swing figuring out her next move.

"You've almost got it," he encourages.

I have taught my son many things in his 9 years of life.
I taught him the alphabet and how to count to 10.
I taught him to appreciate the band Skillet, which he now plays on his electric guitar.
I taught him how to tie his shoes, hang up clothes, and mop a floor.

There are some things, however, that I haven't taught him.

Yes, I have explained Down syndrome to him in the most simplistic way. He's listened as I have shared with him why his sister cannot talk very well. When he questioned why she needs a wheelchair for long outings and he doesn't, I've had to provide those answers too. As things have come along, I've tried to teach him about his sister's needs and conditions. Still, there are some things I haven't told him to do or say regarding his sister.

There was a moment in 2015 when I marveled at Elijah's instinctive ability to help his sister communicate. He and Jaycee were on a large indoor playground apparatus. They were both at the top of it- winding around the tunnels when other children Elijah's age joined their area.

After some typical kid greetings, my son says, "She's my sister. Her name is Jaycee. She can't talk."

One of the little boys asked, "Why can't she talk?"

"I don't know. She just can't," he replied while I chuckled on the ground below.

I was proud that as a 5 year old, he had the unction to include his sister in this exchange. He handled it well, so I didn't involve myself in the conversation. Elijah continues to help his sister out in these situations. I have never given him a speech about including his sister or telling peers her name. He just did it on his own.

Last weekend as I watched Elijah stop and help his sister off that tire swing, I felt that marvel again. I haven't demanded that he always wait for his sister and help in every situation. Sure, there are times I ask him to show Jaycee which shoe goes on which foot, open juice box straws for her when she's struggling, or unbuckle her vest when her airway clearance cycle is done. But, I've never talked about the important of helping Jaycee in everyday life and paying attention to her needs. I've never insisted that he help her. He just has.

I suppose instead I showed him how to respond. The three of us spend a great deal of time together (dad works long hours), which he means he watches me help Jaycee, tend to her needs, and slow my pace to meet hers. I haven't necessarily taught Elijah these things, but he has surely picked up on them. I'm grateful that he's paid attention.

There are some things I don't have to teach my son.
I just wish the whole world could learn what he knows.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story. My daughter really struggles with wanting to help her brother. She is now at an age where she is embarrased by him. It's really sad to watch.


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