This blog was set up to write about our experiences raising a child with a hearing loss and what that journey has been like....
But there are 2 kids in this house and there have been many more lessons from the younger sibling of the household.
B was had just turned one when A was hospitalised with meningitis. It was a crazy, crazy time and he was cared for by a variety of friends and family during the days and then with myself or hubby in the evenings. Then came the months of follow up appointments, cochlear implant candidacy evaluations etc etc. My mum was a godsend and was the one that spent much of the time with B during the times that I couldn't.
In fact I watched the video of A's cochlear implant activation and I love that B is in there having just woken up from his sleep and walking around. making himself known. I love that there is footage of him from a time when everything was such a blur including all the beautiful things that were happening in his life.
Did he miss out during that time? Does he have any memory of that time or feels like he did? I don't know, but as a parent there will always be a level of guilt that maybe he did. Yes the rational, science brain tells me that there should be no guilt, since it wasn't like I had any choices about it at the time!! But it seems that guilt goes hand in hand with maternal instinct, you just can't escape it.
In those early days we made lots of time for him to spend one on one with mum or dad, some special time of his own, and we still try to do that today, to make him know the he is as loved and as important as his brother in this family and the fact he doesn't have a disability doesn't make him less important.
It isn't as though we feel any differently about the 2 boys but the realities are that A's life has its share of complicating factors like appointments to audiologists, follow up information with school etc etc.
If it weren't for the fact they looked like twins in those Pixie baby photos they take in hospital, I would wonder if they are in fact related! They are like chalk and cheese - my boys.
A is the superconfident, assertive, positive, academic - loves learning and all it encompasses, very organised etc etc.
B is the flipside of the coin. For a long time he has had a low level of self confidence, he so desperately worries what his peers think of him, wants to just fit in! He loves music and is a great guitarist. He loves the hands on stuff, like tech, like science experiments, like sport...but the written..oh what a bore! Not his cup of tea at all, which of course doesn't mean he doesn't know the content, just means he can't be arsed writing it all down on paper - the minimalist approach as I call it. His organisation is greatly improving - and well, we had plenty of scope for that!
Often childhood experts will have chapters in books dedicated to sibling order and the impact of birth order on personality. One of things they regularly say is that the second child tends to find the niches not occupied by the first child. A way of making themselves different and not trying to compete in areas that their older sibling already shines in and has a couple of extra years practice at it!!
I can see that in someways in B but I see many other things too. I see that insecurity that plagued me as a child...if I walked into a room and someone laughed, of course they were laughing at me! That need just to blend in was so strong. I have shared this with B and that how when he gets older he will see how much this feeling is actually caused from within, but equally shared that I know my words won't cut it with him in the same way my parents words didn't cut it with me. It is one of those life experiences you need to learn from yourself.
I also see a lot of my brother in B. He was never that keen on school, writing or that stuff either...as for organisation, I will never forget the day the spaghetti bolognaise from home economics escaped his bag and filled all of his books on the way home from school - that was a keeper! Yet he has become the most amazing successful adult. He completed his trade, went on to study other more technical aspects of his trade with such understanding and application of difficult concepts it blew my father's mind! Now in a time poor of quality of tradespeople, he is on top of the game, being headhunted for positions left, right and centre.
As parents who both loved school and went on to be tertiary educated, there is kind of an inbuilt assumption that your kids will be that way too. An incorrect inbuilt assumption.
B has taught me about listening to your child! Listening to what they say and equally what they don't say. It is about acceptance and love of your child for who they are, the real enjoyment that comes from getting to know what makes them tick and celebrating with them the things that they excel at. It is about their dreams, their hopes, their thoughts for the future.
B is also on the fringe of becoming an amazing young man. He is starting to gain that confidence and step out from the shadow of his older brother which in itself is an amazing thing to witness. He is starting to think about what he might like to do and finally is comfortable with saying out loud that which I have known for so long - he isn't interested in going to Uni, he doesn't want a desk job or a career in academia. He wants to be out there doing things, experiencing life, at this point he is thinking about his music and guitar as a future pathway. He is a really loving, caring person, unless of course you are out and see his friends in which case it is 3 feet in front or behind, anywhere so long as it doesn't look like he is out with the olds : - )
B is yet another shining example of teaching me more than I have taught him on this journey. He is the one that has to yet to work out what his niche might be but the journey to that point will be an exciting time of discovery for all of us.