Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Joy of Having a Big Sister

When N. was little he called her "Sissie." Eight years older than he, she has been equal parts sister and mother.

When he was small, MLC noticed before I did that there was something peculiar about N.'s communication skills. She was quite vocal about it and also insisted that he look at her when he talked. He accompanied her on many a doll picnic, and she insisted that he call her friends by name. He did. "Woosty" (Mystie) and "Wissa" (Melissa) became secondary sisters, who delighted in hauling around a real, live kid. Together with MLC, they did more for his communication skills than all of his therapists combined. They expected him to act like a normal kid--and he complied. The power of good women cannot be easily dismissed!

MLC has always been fiercely protective of her little brother. When the fire alarm went off at a screening of the first Harry Potter, she elbowed me and Bruce out of the way in order to get N. out first. When N. was in third grade, he complained about his teacher (that was the year of the ditto queen). MLC went to "pick him up" the very next day, leaving the university a little early to scope out the situation. She not only reported to me on what she saw (N. being punished for writing slowly by being deprived of group interaction--against the IEP), she told the teacher in no uncertain terms that she had seen the situation and she intended to take action.

Now she is taking N. in hand again. Kids with AS often have difficulty understanding the need for the finer points of hygeine. I, as N.'s mother, do a lot of reminding...and reminding...and reminding... about appropriate clothing, deoderant, combing hair, tooth brushing, etc. (Yes--N. has entered adolescence--slowly but surely--"boy funk" has entered our house).
But when MLC speaks, it is final. Change that shirt, she'll say. And he does.

Now she has embarked on teaching him the finer points of social skills. Like opening doors for ladies of all ages.

At the Bat Mitzvah party, she undertook to teach him the fine points of impressing the fairer sex.

She showed him how to successfully ask a young lady to dance.
And she started teaching how to dance with a partner.

There's still a height difference, but N. was game.

There was only one problem. After dancing with the prettiest and most sophisticated young lady on the dance floor, why screw up your courage to ask anybody else?

I think he enjoyed the attention he was getting. All the other girls were imitating MLC. And the boys were watching---MLC.

Sometimes its a real joy to have a big sister. Even if she does remind you to change your boxers on a regular basis.


Lill said...

Lucky N. Big sisters are a big help not only in childhood but beyond. I'm a big sister and I still get fierce when someone disses my (54 yr old) little brother. You have beautiful children, Elisheva. And obviously your daughter's beauty is more than skin deep.

Shine On,

Megan Bayliss said...

Snap - experiencing the same hygeine probs. It amazes me that teeth don't fall out sooner!!!!!

What a great thing your daughter is doing.


Frankie said...

Your children are beautiful -- inside and out. What a lovely post, and how fortunate they are to have each other.

Shawna said...

That was precious! What an awesome big sister.