Monday, June 28, 2010

Little Caretaker

Maya, age 1, feeding her baby

Maya, age 2, "changing" her baby's diaper

My 2 year old daughter Maya has shown a strong maternal instinct since she could move. As soon as she had the ability to manuveur her arms and legs, she would feed spoon and bottle feed her dolls and stuffed animals. She now loves to "change" their diapers as well. She gets out her mini changing pad and lies each one down. Then she gets a baby wipe to wipe them and she tells me they have "tiny poo".

recently she has transferred some of this caretaking behavior to Sam. It both warms my heart and makes me sad. If he is crying, she gets a tissue and wipes his face saying, "Sam crying". She will hold the tissue to his nose and say, "blow". A couple of days ago I caught her in the bathroom with Sam trying to wipe him (Ew?). SHe could only reach his back so she was rubbing the toilet paper up and down his back. I finished the job for her and when he got up she said, "good job Sam". When Sam come in she sits down next to him and tries to help pull his shoes off.

It is foolish to think children don't notice difference. Maya has clearly noticed that Sam is different. SHe recognizes that at 5 he needs much more help on things than she does at 2. She also know his behvaior is different. Sometimes she imitates his stims - dropping a straw and flapping her arms while saying, "oooooooh". The difference of course is that she is fully aware that this is an imitation. Her pleasure from this behavior is just that she is copying her brother - there is no other neurological reward. SHe notices the differences but they just don't matter to her - yet.

Even though Maya is only 2, it makes me happy to know that she loves him and "gets" him. I expect that there will be a period of time when she resents him or, perhaps, is embarrassed by him. I won't fault her for that. He is a tough brother to have. I feel a little sad for her. Ultimately though, I hope the caretaker in her will overcome any bad feelings. I think this is why I really want her to have another sibling. She shouldn't have to be a caretaker alone.


Stranded said...

Please don't feel sorry for her. I know as a young person I would never have understood these things and I won't fault siblings or young people who scare at the idea of caring for a high-need individual, BUT why should caretaking be a bad thing? OR something that is viewed as a misfortune?

I beleive in an afterlife and in service to another human (and a loved one at that) is like doing God's work. Obviously this view point is easier said than done even by those with more experience and faith. Definitely a very tough thing for a young person to grasp. But I really believe there is a reward in the end for caretaking done with love and sincerity.

God bless your little girl.

Disability is for sure a burden to bear for the disabled and their caretakers but few people have the chance and character to see it through and see it through with courage. Those are special people and they are closer to God.

You never know, maybe if she takes care of him now, he may take care of her when it is time for them to face God or even before that! Sam may well end up bringing as much joy in her life as hardship.

She looks really sweet with her "baby" know KHaled has a real nurturing streak too! Its funny to watch him "feed" his toy babies.

Emma said...

Dear STranded,
THank you. I think that was the best comment I could have hoped for.