It’s Hard to be a Sibling

Sometimes it’s hard to be a kid.

Sometimes it’s very hard to be a sibling.

Being a sibling to someone with special needs? Very difficult.

Sometimes the ones you least expect to feel bad do.

Sometimes your child surprises you.

Last week, while the girls were taking there Kids on Camera class at the Oneida Tri-Valley YMCA I was in charge of keeping the Boss busy. For the first half-hour I kept him busy by trying to get him back into the pool during open swim. Instead of being super enthusiastic he sat on the stairs with his feet dangling in the water…charming all the ladies waiting for the start of the 6 p.m. class. #Player

Following the 30-minute feet dip, we toured the rest of the Y. He spotted a water fountain and, well, Mr. Tappy got Happy (see Facebook video of Theo at the water fountain).

But as these things sometimes go, Theo got a little more tappy and a lot more slappy. And just when I tried to suggest he be a tad more gentle the girls’ teacher came out in the hallway to let us know we were bothering her class. They were recording (which I didn’t know and, for the record, there was more than one class going on).

I looked at her and said I was trying… and the Boss must have sensed the frustration in my voice because he took off, and as an upset Boss will do, started to meltdown. I had to run after him and put his helmet on. We then walked to the lobby to wait for the girls.

Reassuring him that everything was OK, he eventually calmed down. I was pretty proud he was able to turn it around so quickly.

Ten-minutes after the end of class the girls finally met up with us. I asked if they were late because of Theo and they replied that there were other classes going on, other noises, so that’s why they were late. So, we picked up some dinner and headed for home.

After dinner I noticed Olena seemed upset. I asked what was wrong. She said nothing.

I asked again, and I saw tears.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

Sigh… being a sibling is hard.

“When the teacher came back into the class after she talked to you and Theo the kids started laughing.”

“But, honey, that’s OK. Theo wasn’t the only one making noise.”

“It was embarrassing.”

(See, here I thought it was embarrassing because she was embarrassed about Theo. Well, I was wrong.)

“They weren’t laughing at Theo, they just don’t understand Theo that’s all. He wasn’t bothered by it.”

“But, mom, Theo could hear them. Theo could hear them laughing at him and that hurts. That’s my brother.”

My heart sank. What do you say to that? How do you explain?


Olena and Gretchen: Super Siblings

I kept it simple. I told Olena that sometimes kids didn’t know how to react so they laugh instead. They weren’t doing it to hurt her, or to hurt Theo. And that next time she can say that he is autistic. Maybe the kids would understand. Maybe not.  And then you move on.


She seemed satisfied and the tears stopped.

Mine, however, flowed later that night.

It’s so hard to be a sibling. But Theo’s siblings are doing it right.

Until next time.








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