Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I'll Hold Your Hands & Pray

Sibling bonding is a really unique dynamic when you have one child that is severely disabled and another child that is typical.  While all sibling relationships have  hierarchical and reciprocal elements, that looks a bit differently in a special needs family dynamic.  The attachment theory very much becomes applicable between siblings, and you quickly find that a very emotional and physical development happens that has nothing at all to do with the encouragement and push from either parent for them to love, like and get along.

Although Noah is the older sibling, he has always been the one to seek comfort from Luke.  It's a beautiful kind of role reversal and a flip flop of birth order almost to compensate for the physical challenges that Noah possesses.  Luke has assumed the role of protector, best friends, advisor, entertainer, and caregiver in training.  He has mastered the art of paying close attention to Noah's laughter triggers, his anger responses, his expressions, and his vocal sounds in order to become a fast and accurate interpreter of all of Noah's needs.  Sometimes he's quicker then even I am to just "know" what Noah needs in the moment.
The older he gets the more tenderness and attention to detail I see.  When he thinks I'm busy or needing to tend to making dinner or doing laundry Luke will quietly get on the floor with Noah, thinking I'm completely unaware, and plays with him.  I can catch him whispering secrets into Noah's ear and Noah giggling with delight, he'll repeat phrases that he knows will make Noah laugh, he'll mimic Noah intentionally so that he feels the same and not different.  I can't help but take great pause and watch unnoticed from a distance at this beautiful thing they do together.  It's so pure, innocent and oh so heavenly.

Of course there are still very apparent episodes of sibling rivalry.  Luke will have moments where he is possessive of toys he claims as only his, and likewise Noah does the same.  They exhibit this by purposefully trying to keep each other toys away from the other.   And while those moments don't generally last for a significant amount of time, they intentionally do it to each other in a way as to establish dominance over the other - really like a checks and balance of their relationship.  I rarely intervene as it never escalates to a point of parental involvement and I let the two of them work out their minor disagreements which in the end always winds up with one or the other conceding and extending an invitation of play.

By far one of my most favorite things to watch is when Luke goes over to Noah in his feeding chair before each meal and holds both of his hands together.  And says "Thank you Lord for the food we're about to receive.  Amen."  And then goes and find his place at the table to eat.  To watch a little brother hold his big brother's hands together so he can pray... well that kind of makes a mom's heart reach places that you didn't even know existed.
There is so much grace to sweet moments that happen in our household.  It's an extraordinary relationship that Noah and Luke have, and I hope and pray that their bond will be forever and lasting well into adulthood.  That Noah will never ever be alone and Luke forever and always be there to hold his brother's hands and help him pray.

He's such a great little sidekick for Noah.  Even as I write this, Luke is singing a goodnight song to Noah and telling him not to party too long.

Being a Brother is Better than Being a Superhero. 


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.