Alternatively titled, “Can a Boy With An Intellectual Disability Be a Big Brother?”
and/or “How Does a Late, Surprise Baby Fit Into the Fam?”
Those are two questions I think about a lot.
As it is right now, Finn is fairly smitten with Scarlett. Not overly so (like the other kids, who can’t seem to keep their hands off her, no matter how many times I say, “Leave the baby alone!”). While I was pregnant, I was worried about jealousy on his part. Very worried. There didn’t seem to be any way I could really prepare him for the coming arrival and his position as baby of the family therefore being usurped. I tried to tell him many times over the months that Mommy had a baby in her belly, but I’m pretty sure all he got from it was that “baby” was another word for “belly.” Thankfully, now that the baby is here, he does seem to get that “baby” and “belly” are two different things – and hey! Baby has a belly, too! Neato!
Anyway, I do think there is some jealousy on his part, or at least a sense of adjusting to this new family member and what it means for him. At first, he seemed to actually be afraid of her – and who could blame him? Here’s this tiny, funny looking creature who makes A LOT of VERY LOUD noise. What the hell? What is it and when will it go away? (Okay, I’m putting words in his mouth, but I doubt that’s very far off from what he was thinking.) Then he seemed angry, and he did take it out on Scarlett a few times, by smacking her and raking his fingernails very hard across her head. That only lasted a week or two, thank goodness.
Now, he likes her just fine. I think he’s still not too happy about getting less attention, but now he takes it out on me instead of on the baby. He seems to get the most pissed off when I’m closed up in my room, nursing Scarlett and trying to get her to sleep. He’ll stand right outside my door and yell at the top of his lungs, all angry like. Or he’ll lie on the floor and kick the door over and over. Or he’ll yell and kick the door. If I’m nursing the baby and not trying to put her to sleep, I’ll let him climb up on me, too. I know he still needs me, I know he still needs to be cuddled. As for Scarlett, he likes to pat her (gently) and kiss her (repeatedly – one kiss is never enough), and he likes to tell me when she’s crying. “Mommy, Baby Scarlett,” he tells me (“Scarlett” still sounds something like “Garlic” coming from him). But he can sort of take her or leave her. He doesn’t go looking for her, and he doesn’t seem to miss her when she’s tucked away napping or whatnot. Out of sight, out of mind? Maybe.
I’m sure Finn’s and Scarlett’s relationship will evolve over time. I just wonder how it will evolve. How will it look in, say, a year? Five years? Ten? When they’re adults? Will Finn be the protective older brother? Will he teach her things? Will he scold her? Dote on her?
Or will it be the other way around? Because, I gotta be honest: she’s going to pass him up – developmentally, intellectually – at some point. I’m okay with that, it’s just the way it is. Okay, yeah, there’s a little sadness there, a little worry, I confess. It doesn’t eat at me, but I do wonder.
Regardless, I do know that Finn will enrich Scarlett’s life – and she his – just like he has enriched all his other siblings’ lives, and they his. That’s something I don’t have doubts about.
And Miss Scarlett. I wonder about her place in the family, too. Sometimes it makes me sad that she’s probably too far behind the other three girls to ever be a full-fledged member of their little club. Annabelle, Daisy, and Lilah – they’re tight, those three (Annabelle and Lilah, especially – which is interesting considering that Annabelle and Daisy are the twins). They’re two years apart in age, two grades apart in school, they share a room, they share clothes, they share extracurricular activities – they’re pretty much a unit. Scarlett is about five and half years younger than Lilah, the youngest of the threesome. There’s no room to put her in their bedroom, so when she moves out of our bedroom in a few months, she’ll share a room with Finn – a boy. A boy who is four years older than her. A boy who is four years older than her and who has Down syndrome. Huh.
Who will be her cohort? Her compadre? Because all my kids seem to have special alliances with one or another of each other. Who will Scarlett partner up with? Who knows – maybe it’ll be Finn.
I just wonder, worry, if she’ll go through life feeling like an appendage, an after thought. An only child in some weird way.
I probably worry too much, right?