Monday, December 5, 2011

Amazing big brother

Luke is the oldest of the brothers by 2 minutes. He is just getting to the point where he grasps the concept that he is biggest, and older than everyone. Most of the time, that means he has to behave better than his brothers or show them a good example. Sometimes being the oldest means you get a raw deal.

Luke understands a lot for a 4 year old. He understands that when Will doesn't feel well, he goes to the hospital. It isn't uncommon for him to ask to accompany Will to physical therapy so that he can cheer his brother on. Luke leads the clapping charge when Will plays "Row Row Row Your Boat" on his computer and we all clap in unison. He knows the buttons to push to start and prime Will's feeding pump. He asks for Will's opinion when choosing an Elmo DVD to watch. Luke knows that when he pushes Will in his wheelchair, Will will laugh.

Because he's the oldest, though, we do expect a lot from him. There are consequences for not finishing his dinner and for making Matthew cry. He still goes to time out for not listening and following directions. We expect him to share his toys and walk away from a situation when someone hits him or makes him frustrated. He dresses himself each morning (including his orthotic braces on both feet), tells me what he'd like for breakfast, clears the table when he's done, and pushes in his chair. Sometimes I wonder if we expect too much. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he's just 4 years old. And although he doesn't have the severity of disability that Will has, he has his own set of challenges. Speech and developmental delays, behavioral problems and shunt malfunctions are very real, very present, and very possible issues with him.

It is easy for us to look at Luke and look at Will, and think that Luke is fine because he is more physically capable than his brother. We got caught in this last year when we were transitioning Luke into his pre-K program. We were totally surprised when we got the report that he was almost a year delayed in his speech.

Since that time, we've been more vigilant about his development as a preemie in his own right. Luke continues to have some issues with distractability in the classroom and following two-step directions. These are things that we will work on until the next issue arises. I talk to his teachers regularly, and for whatever reason, always expect for them to drop the next shoe. For a while, they expressed concern with his speech, his apparent lack of focus in the classroom, his desire to only ever play with the computer, and his dissatisfaction when he had to relinquish the computer to another student. Recently, the tone has changed. Luke is maturing, and to their and our delight, they now describe him in these wonderful words:

Kind. Chivalrous. Mild-mannered. Friendly. Inclusive. Social. A friend to all. Calm. Talkative. Descriptive. A joy. Smart. Attentive. Hilarious.

Wow. What a kid! We're so proud of him in so many ways. I hope we tell him enough. I hope he knows just how wonderful he truly is, and how blessed we are to have him.

Everybody wants to be somebody's favorite something. When Luke and Will were born and Will had blonde hair, I called Luke my favorite brown-haired son and Will my favorite blonde-haired son. Since Will's hair has darkened and Matt came out with brown hair, I had to rethink my favorites. One night at bed time, it just came out as I was saying goodnight:

You're my favorite Luke.

There's no comma in there... saying "you're my favorite, Luke" would have another meaning (a big no-no as a mama of 3!). But in the whole wide world, this little boy with the biggest heart around owns the tag as Mommy's favorite Luke. There is no other Luke that compares.

Not too many nights ago, I was kissing Luke goodnight and whispered my Luke-favoritism into his ear. He hugged my neck tight and whispered back:

You're my favorite Mommy.

Oh, be still my heart.

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