Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"I Don't Like Him"

We returned to the States in the summer and began home leave.  After completing a foreign post,  foreign service officers usually get an extended time off to see family and become re-acquainted with America.  We spent over a month in Texas seeing all our family and lots of friends.  Joe and our parents carried us through this time as my body is less than stellar with pregnancies, but it all worked out.

Joshua did a fantastic job of transitioning from house to house.  He was probably thrilled to have so many people around playing with him.  And having Daddy 24/7 is always a bonus.  I was worried that he would have a hard time leaving our house, yard, and most of all Khadija.  He was truly her boy. But he didn't show it, and the summer went by.

It was at some point in Texas that I overheard 4 year old G telling Joe, "I don't like Joshua."  

Oh dear. I panicked and got really upset.  (What do you mean you don't like Joshua???!) Which is why it's good that Joe was handling the conversation.  

What it boiled down to was that G was deeply hurt.  He didn't understand at that age why Joshua wouldn't play with him.  G was desperate for a peer.  And Joshua, being his brother, was supposed to be that playmate.  I think it hit home for him after he spent a week with his same-age cousin.  Why didn't Joshua talk to him?  Why didn't they chase each other or play cars?

When I got pregnant with Joshua, I was hoping he would be a boy because they would be close in age and thus, great friends.  Of course G didn't pay much attention to him as a baby, but as time went on he tried to get Joshua involved in what he was doing.  

The only time they played together was when we facilitated it.  (Or back in Morocco, Khadija and M'Barek)  They had a great time together, when Joshua was on board with it, and would laugh and giggle.  But the adult has to be there; Joshua just doesn't know how to initiate and sustain play.  

We were able to explain to G the best we could about Joshua.  And also had G start praying every night for Joshua and his specific struggles.  That has certainly helped.  And he does really, really love his brother.  In the past several months, as G has matured, he has become a great protector of Joshua.  Recently, Joshua has begun to let G hold his hand to take him places: across the street, through a parking lot, and he takes GREAT pride in this.  I'm sure he's still disappointed; I know he is.  Ansley has been a great gift for G.  I think he loves her all the more because she interacts with him.  Even if it's a "No! No!",  like recently.

But Joshua has his own hurt.  G is very extroverted and demanding of our attention.  Looking back, in the early years especially, we gave G more attention during playtime due to his personality.  Couple that with a child that again, is playing quietly in the corner, and it gets tricky.  Especially before his diagnosis.  We know now that Joshua notices most everything, even though he may not acknowledge it.  (You can catch him giving a quick flick of the eyes around the room.)  It was so bad, that Khadija, very respectfully, brought it up to me once.  She, in her limited knowledge, thought our lack of attention to Joshua was what caused his autism.  We know that's not true, but it was still a punch in the gut.  Even now, if Joshua is engaged in play with us and G comes up to get in front of him, he doesn't fight back, he just slinks off.  Now that we're aware of this, we can be diligent about including him and having G wait for his turn.  


Though it's tough now, I fully expect for Joshua and G to develop a special friendship as they grow older.  I don't know what it will look like, but God does.  And that's more than enough for me.

(It should be noted that A worships Joshua.  She has no clue that she is pretty much the bane of his existence. That's for another post.)

Be back Friday.

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