Being the oldest child in any household is a tough road to hoe. Being “The Big Brother” to “Little Man,” and “The Baby” is a completely different bucket of worms! Especially while Mom is recovering from some pretty major surgery. Mom is the key to making her household work, and “Big Brother’s” more sympathetic parent in the home. Mom is often the voice of reason when “Big Brother,” and Dad butt heads. She has a gentle way of prompting her boys to have some understanding of each others point of view.
Unfortunately Mom is unable to work her usual magic right now. Dad who is a good father, great support, and good provider is at his wit’s end! The lesson to all of Mom’s boys is that while Mom makes running her home, and handling her boys look effortless, it is a job that requires skills they simply do not possess. I feel sorry for Dad, he is worried about his wife, his children (the middle & youngest child have special needs), and the household finances have been stretched beyond their limits. Dad is very intelligent, and has had a huge dose of what life would be like if the heart of his family did not exist. He loves his wife immensely so the sobering thought that he could have been left behind without her has definitely impacted him deeply.
The problem is that “Big Brother” has had a similar realization, and is dealing with all of this from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy. He has no idea the pressure his father is under, and has come to the conclusion that Dad is at fault for all the current chaos in the home. Dad has formed his own conclusion as well regarding “Big Brother.” He feels that his son is deliberately making every single task in the home more difficult. He feels that he is severely lacking in both motivation, and responsibility regarding both school, and his home life. So Dad has decided to take a firm stand with “Big Brother,”and “Big Brother” has decided to take a stand with Dad!
Now keep in mind all of this tension, and disruption in the home has completely turned “Little Man’s world upside down! The key to dealing with his particular form of Autism is having a consistently calm daily routine. “The Baby” who also has very unique special needs can not understand any of the changes in his life. Especially the fact that his mother is unable to hold him. So “Little Man,”and “The Baby” are both acting out in major ways. Poor Mom is in pain from her surgery. Having all of her boys melt down in their own individual ways is not exactly the best environment to heal. She is keenly aware that “Big Brother” has decided to wage war on Dad.
I tried to gently suggest to Dad that taking the approach of making “Big Brother,” my partner in reaching certain required goals has always been a very successful way of motivating him. He is an “old soul” in a child’s body. As the oldest child with two younger special needs siblings he has been required to behave in a more than age appropriate mature manner. So he becomes quite resentful when he is suddenly demoted back to being his actual age.
Dad dismisses my suggestion for the more hard-line approach, and tells “Big Brother” that he will go to school, and he will not open his sass mouth for any reason. He goes on further to say you will not do one single thing unless your teachers tell you to do so, asking “Big Brother” to repeat his directions back to him to ensure he has a complete understanding! “Big Brother” follows his Dad’s exact direction. Dad looks at me with a look that relays this is how we handle “Big Brother.” So then I gather the other two boys delivering each one to their separate schools while Dad heads off to work.
One hour later I receive a call from Dad. He is completely enraged sitting in the principal’s office at “Big Brother’s” school. Apparently “Big Brother” had followed Dad’s exact direction not to open his sass mouth for any reason, which made it impossible for “Big Brother” to tell his teacher he could not get up from his chair to go to his next class because she had not given him the exact direction to stand up from his chair and walk to his next class. 😉