We haven't talked about it openly yet, but she knows.
Amelia knows that her brother is a little bit different.
I was very much looking forward to summer break with the kids this year. Being six now, they are more mature and communicative and interested in the world around them. Better able to understand things and follow directions. And I was right; this has been the easiest and most entertaining summer break I've had since having children.
It's also been the hardest, emotionally-speaking.
Anderson's quirks and anxieties have been at the forefront this summer. He has developed new interests and worries and it has been sort of trying for both Amelia and me. Part of me feels guilty about saying that; another part of me says that I'm just human and that I'm just being honest.
One of Anderson's newest fascinations is with roads, specifically with getting from one place to another. I knew he was sort of navigationally gifted from a very young age; before he could really talk in complete sentences, he knew every time we got off of New Circle road onto Nicholasville Road and he would say "No dentist! No dentist!" When we would pass Harrodsburg Road, he would say "Bye-bye, doctor!" He has just always kind of known where he is in relation to other things, which is a great skill. I truly believe he will never get lost. However, now he is curious about street names, and he enjoys traveling on certain roads more than others. This means that, if I tell them we are going to the store, he is going to ask me a series of questions about the route that we will take (example: "Hey mom! Are we going to get on New Circle Road? Are we taking Harrodsburg Road? Are we going north or south? Will we go downtown? Are we downtown yet?" and on and on....). Then, as we are on our way, he will continue to ask questions about roadways. I have to be honest; there are only a certain number of roadway questions I can tolerate before starting to feel impatient. I admit to saying more than once, "I'm not answering any more questions about that.." and refusing to talk about it anymore, despite the barrage of interrogatives coming from the back seat. However, I didn't realize that Amelia was also getting irritated until one day, she just came out with "ANDERSON! STOP ASKING QUESTIONS!" I was both amused and a little bit alarmed because I just assumed she wasn't really paying attention. The constant and habitual need for him to ask questions wasn't lost on her and she, like myself, wanted a moment of quiet.
This summer, we have also been taking care of my friend's cats while she travels on her honeymoon. Part of our routine is going to her condo in the mornings and evenings to feed the cats, take care of the litter box, etc. Anderson, while overcoming his fear of elevators, is still skittish. He seems to have developed a fear that someone is going to get stuck in the elevator doorway, or that the elevator won't open. Therefore, he HAS to get to the elevator door first, has to "guide" (aka push) Amelia and I onto the elevator to ensure we don't get trapped, and has to ask a specific series of questions as we ride--"Are the doors going to open? What does Diesel Ducy call it when the elevator does this (moves his hands up and down quickly; the answer is 'leveling')" These are non-negotiables; he HAS to get to the doors first, "guides" us onto the elevator, and asks these questions EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It doesn't fail.
In the last week, Amelia has become irritated with the routine. She likes to run in the parking garage, and Anderson's need to control the situation means that he often grabs at her because he doesn't want her to get ahead of him, lest she arrive at the elevator doors before him. She has pouted, pulled away from him, and yelled at him, but those things don't matter to Anderson. Finally, tired of the battle, I made a new rule that we discuss every day as we park. Amelia is allowed to run, but must stop at the door to the building. Anderson allowed this, but is still clearly nervous. She enjoyed this for a few days, but I could tell she recognized that Anderson was still nervous. Yesterday, as we were arriving for cat duty, without any prompting from me, she looked at Anderson and said, "I won't run today. Let's hold hands." Then, I swear to God, the girl looked at me and smiled. I complimented her kindness profusely, and Anderson thanked her and said, "Thanks, Amelia. When you run it makes me feel nervous." That moment? That was one I'll never forget. Amelia recognized her brother's needs, and by showing him that kindness, he was able to better verbalize WHY he felt anxious. It was beautiful.
She went on to assume my reassurance duties in the elevator, answering his questions about whether the elevator doors will open ("They always open, Anderson") and the leveling. And as we walked back to the elevator doors, she automatically reached for his hand.
I know that there is going to come a time when she will ask questions about what is unspoken. She'll want to know why Anderson does the things he does, and I just pray that I have the knowledge and ability to answer her in the best possible way. But she already knows. She knows, and she gets frustrated just like everyone else, but most importantly? She is learning kindness, acceptance, and how to be empathetic to others' needs. And for that, I am grateful.
7 hours ago