Where a dad of two great kids (one on the autism spectrum) muses about life.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sweet Pea will turn 5 this month. She's just a little over 2 years younger than Buddy Boy. She's always been a typical younger sister. Pretty much equal parts adoring, competitive, and annoying to her older brother. She is outgoing, charming, willful, has a smile that lights up a room, and gets excited and happy about ordinary things.
Because Buddy Boy gets up earlier than Sweet Pea, she goes to bed approximately 30 minutes later than he does. Our routine is that for that last 30 minutes at least 20 minutes is spent reading to her.
Lately Sweet Pea has been somewhat fixated on us reading "An American Tail, an illustrated story" for her bedtime reading. This is a big departure from her usual desired fair- children's animal fables, collections of short children's stories, and her all time favorites, Disney princess stories.
An American Tail is a fairly long (63 pages) and fairly wordy book for a soon to be 5 year old. It's long enough that we have to break the book up over at least 3-4 nights to finish it. The book tells the story of a Russian mouse emigrant in the 1880's who is washed overboard on the voyage to America, and is separated from his family. He makes it to America in a bottle, and the rest of the story is a series of adventures in New York City while he searches for, and is eventually reunited with, his family.
Both Buddy Boy and Sweet Pea are adopted. Although we have pictures of their birth parents up in their rooms, occasionally send or get a card from her birthmother, and visited their birthmother once about a year and a half ago, Buddy Boy hasn't expressed more than a passing interest in his being adopted. It's harder to tell with Sweet Pea. She talks about her birthmother more, but it may be because Sweet Pea is more interested in the whole pregnancy/birthing process right now. When Sweet Pea mentions that she wants to have a baby, we start our mantra- "First you have to go to college, then you have to get a job. Then you can send your parents to Hawaii. :) Then you can get married if you want to, and then you can have a baby".
I've been wondering if Sweet Pea's interest in An American Tail is rooted in a vague feeling of abandonement because of adoption. My reading tells me that kids this age wonder what they may have done to make their birthmother not love them or want them. I also wonder if she feels the burden yet of being "different" from her peers in pre-school, because of her having been adopted. We talk about her adoption story, and reassure her that she had nothing to do with the circumstances that led up to her being placed for adoption. We also reassure her that we will always be there for her, and that we will love her always.
But I sometimes worry, with all the energy that is taken up with dealing with Buddy Boy's autism, are we missing obvious signs of things Sweet Pea needs from us? I guess all we can do is try to pay attention, and keep on loving them both, 100%, every day.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.