Monday, March 12, 2007

Searching


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.

Joe is 209

7 comments:

Lisa/Jedi said...

I LOVE the mantra...

Mom without a manual said...

Wow! Such heavy thoughts!

It'll be hard to know what she is truly thinking but I think the biggest milestone has been met in that her parents recognize her concerns! You both sound like fantastic parents and I have no doubt that you will handle it appropriately.

All you can really do is reinforce how much you love her and encourage her to voice her questions. Of course, you can "guess" some of her questions and provide that reinforcement anyway!!!

She is a lucky girl! Don't beat yourselves up about the energies on Buddy Boy. Those energies are also coming back to her as she gets a brother better equipped to relate to her. I know that is little consulation at times...

Adoption or not, this is an unfortunately obstacle for the siblings. I am always amazed with how mature and kind the sibs end up. I know it is unfortunate that they lose some of the frivolousness of childhood but they gain so much love and acceptance in its place!

Again, it is still unfair for the siblings but us parents just have to do our best to be there for all of our children!

I have a feeling that you are giving 110% to both!

Club 166 said...

I am always amazed with how mature and kind the sibs end up.

I am actually hoping that this is the case, as Sweet Pea already shows signs of being a princess. She comes home from pre-school dishing about who is and isn't her best friend anymore, checks out how she looks whenever she passes by a mirror, insists that her underwear match her outfit, and does a really good "pouty" face with her hands on her hips. One would think she was thirteen, instead of almost 5. :)

But I do expect that the edges will get more rounded as time goes on, and she gets more of a feel of what's really important in life.

mumkeepingsane said...

I just finished blogging about sibling issues also.

We try so hard to make sure Patrick's older brother gets enough attention. Also, I find myself having to remember to focus on his learning and schooling as well. It's a difficult balance. He's a wonderful older brother though and has learned a lot from living with and relating to his autistic sibling.

kristina said...

What a sweetheart!

Are you going to hold her to that "sending the parents to Hawaii" business....

Would be curious to know what you think of Ralph Savarese's book when it comes out (Reasonable People).

Club 166 said...

I'm still trying to get Grinker's book out of my wife's hands at the moment...

Club 166 said...

And yes, my daughter is quite a sweetheart.

Her smile can melt hearts across a room. And her love of life is infectious.