He Ain’t Heavy

What a cliché title but I tell you, it fits today’s blog post so well.

My kids, once upon a time, loved one another fiercely and liked each other just as much. At only 13 months apart, they were more like twins and behaved as such. It was always one of them calling out to the other to “come on, let’s go” or “where is …”. I even got a comment from a teacher, when they were both finally in school together, that they had never seen anything like my kids’ relationship. They would find each other in the hallways and give each other a hug, ask each other how they were doing, etc. I thought right, I’ve done a good job. This will last forever. Fast forward 10 years to the alternate reality.

What changed? My sons’ diagnosis with Aspergers. My daughter wasn’t really aware that her brother was different at first. She wasn’t aware that other kids didn’t go to so many doctor appointments and specialist appointments and had therapists in the house. She was too young when this all started to think of him as anything but her goofy brother that she wrestled with and played with and loved to be around. But the harder it was for him to socialize with other kids when he should have been, the harder it became for her to overlook that her goofy brother was in fact a little on the odd side and other kids weren’t so nice about it.

I can’t blame her. She pulled away a bit. She found it harder to overlook some of his behaviours. He didn’t make it any easier by always calling her his baby sister and making it sound as though she was years younger instead of months. He would tell stories about her in school and they would expect to meet a toddler. Imagine their shock when my daughter showed up. Imagine her embarrassment at the stories her brother would tell.  This did not go over well and resulted in some pretty intense disagreements. I worried that they might never find each other again.

It’s been a couple of years since my kids have been in the same school.  And quite a few years since the time they sought each other out in the hallway. But you know what hasn’t changed? They are still looking out for each other. While my son doesn’t necessarily possess the skills to act upon the desire to harm those who bother my daughter, she has the goods, and at least he tries. It’s ok if they beat the crap out of each other at home and trash talk but, hey, exuse me!? Did you just try to bully my brother/sister? Really? You tried to do that. I’m going to kick your … The desire to have each other’s backs is still there thank God.

My daughter has taken it upon herself to explain to the kids who try to bully Thomas that he is different. That he is autistic and doesn’t necessarily understand the social graces of the teen years. She is in their face showing them the side of Thomas they never tried to see. To the bullies’ credit, they feel bad once they know Thomas can’t help it. They even go so far as to say they wouldn’t have picked on him had they known. Who changed their minds? My daughter. Who has her brothers’ back and apparently has inherited her mother’s size 7 shit kickers. He might annoy her. She might want to kill him sometimes. But in the end she realizes, he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.


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