Sunday, April 2, 2017

"Good job Teddy!"

As I was upstairs this evening finishing laundry and dishes, I heard AJ exclaim from downstairs, "Good job Teddy!" I immediately stopped what I was doing to listen to the exchange and heard AJ praise Teddy again.

This spontaneous praise, when only the two of them were in the room together, stopped me in my tracks. The thing is it's not unusual to hear AJ praise Teddy. It happens at least every couple days, if not every day. Or, AJ will try to encourage Teddy to do something new or different ... to teach him a new skill, as AJ would say.

These two are the best of buds. (Except when they're not.)

Lately I've been pondering how having Teddy as a brother molds AJ now and will impact AJ in the future. This is something that's always in the back of my mind, but Dave questioned me about it a few days ago and then I read an article on 8 ways children are affected by having a sibling with a disability. I know there will be challenges, frustrations and difficult conversations in the future.

But for now, I'll cherish the empathy and compassion I see developing in AJ. At a party today, a group of kids ran into a bedroom, shut and locked the door with Teddy on the outside. I called inside to AJ and asked him how he felt when earlier the girls had excluded him by saying "No boys allowed" and how he thought Teddy might feel being left out of the fun. Almost instantly, with just that prompt, he unlocked the door and encouraged Teddy to come inside.

When he told me his classmate didn't have crayons on the bus this past Friday, he also told me that he shared his crayons with her. (Good thing he took that larger pack rather than the 4-pack I had suggested. Oh yeah, that might have led to one of the meltdown I mentioned earlier.) He also gave that girl the picture he colored because she really liked it.

I'm certainly not saying that you need to have a sibling or family member with a disability to become a compassionate, empathetic person. But, at least for AJ, I see that as one of the benefits of having Teddy as his brother. He's learning to be more compassionate, empathetic and inclusive at a much younger age than most.

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