Wednesday, 11 June 2014

What makes the man (and the woman)?

Can you just watch the baby a second?
Will you just get him that toy?
Can you push him on the swing?
Watch he doesn't roll off the bed while I run his bath?
Yes I'll read with you in a minute after the baby is fed.
Can you pass me that cream?
Can you run and get the wipes?
Would you mind distracting him to see if he'll stop crying?
I'm sorry I shouted I was really tired because the baby was up all night.
What did you say again?
Sorry you can't sit on my lap as I am holding the baby and he's asleep.
Will you just play with him a minute while I make a quick call?
Yes we'll finish that game when he has settled a bit.

When you have a baby these are the things you may say all too often to the older siblings. It is all part and parcel of life with young children - the youngest can take centre stage for a while. Yet in a blink of an eye they are holding their own, getting their own toys, making their own mischief - becoming a little person in their own right. The playing fields level out once more.

Not so when that sibling has additional needs. The playing fields are always going to remain skewed. And three and a half years on we are still asking the above of them, often neglecting their requirements, relying on their help at times, and needing them to be patient. All the time praying they understand.

I know we have worked hard (so so hard) to try and make sure that Gabriel's needs do not eclipse that of his older brother and sister. We go to great lengths to ensure all three have their moment in the sun.

But being the fallible creatures that we are - we can sometimes get it wrong.

At just seven and six years old, we know we ask a lot of them. Stuff that is above and beyond. We have no choice.

This week is Carers Week.

Meet two of the cutest, most caring, carers in town. They pitch in of their accord, run numerous errands with the merest of grumbles and the biggest of smiles. They pick up the book for the 400th time off the floor and laugh as it's thrown at their head once more. They sing him songs when he is too tired to eat but eat he must. They take a step back from their own demands when things are getting stressful, when they know he has cried long into the night. There is always a grin, a high five, tickle or a rub of his head.

This boy is beyond lucky. In them he has his biggest champions, his shining knights. They see his world as wonderful - full of trips on a bus, swimming pools, days out, cuddles and play aplenty. They are proud of his achievements and although they acknowledge he is different and his path ahead is unknown, they only see the adventures and triumphs to come.

They believe in him. They believe one day all his battles will be won.

They are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of siblings just like them. Brothers and sisters that have to grow up that little bit faster, are expected to do more for themselves whilst also offering a helping hand at the drop of a hat to a member of their family less able than them.

If you asked me about caring, I would say it was this: to adore without seeking acknowledgement; to toil without needing reward; to focus on all the magnificent minutiae and try and pay no heed to the glaring bleak. Also to keep seeing that bigger picture when you feel like shouting "hey, what about me?"

It is not always going to be so innocent in this house. There will be times when they will rally, rage and roar "it's not fair". But we'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, my children know what it feels like to carry an innocent smile in their pocket cherished like a first kiss. And that adversity, affliction and suffering is only a part of a story that is also spilling with encouragement, pleasure, cheer and success.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936

Gabe says: "Okay which jokers thought dressing me like a sugar puff was good fun.
Don't you know nets do nothing for my hair."  
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  1. Oh Ally* you have me welling up again! Your big two are such legends - even though they are not really that big at all. It must be so hard for you to balance all of their needs for attention. Ha ha, my baby-toddler's hair does that on the trampo too - mega cute! I love how you give us a little Gabe fix at the end of your posts. 8 days to go - WOO! xxx *Is Ally cool? Or is that reserved for your family? Tell me what to call you, Gorge! x

  2. Oh, sniff sniff! Just gorgeous writing once again sweetpea. Your children are all just beautiful - on the outside and the inside by the sounds of it too. Bless every one of them! :) I think the Complicated Gorges would get on very well indeed with the Little Wood littles - can you imagine??! Loved this pet - totally inspiring, as ever! Xx

    1. They would have a ball xx They do have their moments believe me xx

  3. Beautiful post, I'm welling up too, beautiful post about your beautiful children xx #loudnproud

  4. Two fab siblings he's got there!!

  5. You have three amazing kids. Your big kids sound like awesome siblings, and you are quite right to be very proud of them. Wonderful post x

  6. Lovely post and you are right to be so proud.

  7. your kids are just so awesome! F hates his little bro and i really struggle with that so it must be lovely to have ones that get on, perhaps they do sense they need to be more patient and tolerant too. Little people can be so much cleverer than we often give them credit for x

    1. Honestly Katie the oldest two bicker like cat and dog but are so cute with the little man. This may change when he starts crawling over their games and demanding Iggle Piggle. Thanks for lovely comment xx

  8. This is so beautifully written, you express yourself so well. As others have said, you should be very proud of your kids but of yourselves too. I actually think that you're teaching your children some wonderfully positive traits that will serve them very well in later life. I'm sure they adore their little brother. Thanks for linking up to #loudnproud this week xx

    1. Thanks Suzanne that is a lovely thing to say. xx