No one really knows it better than big sister. The imbalance of attention and effort is extraordinary. I try to tell myself that some of it is typical, and I am sure some of it is. The rest is frankly unavoidable. Kimberly has required an inordinate amount of our attention since day one. For the first three – four years it was grossly out of balance. I can hopefully say that Virginia is catching up a little. We make time for an extracurricular activities for just her (horseback riding lessons, gymnastics, etc), but only one at a time. It is all we can manage with everything else. There are sleep overs with friends, the standard play dates, and special time with Nana or Aunts/Uncles. Nevertheless though, it occasionally breaks my heart. Virginia is a sensitive soul, a worrier, and so much wants to be the apple of our eye.
There are so many things about her that remind me of myself and I have such fear that I may be damaging her as I find myself with so little left over for her…little time, little patience. She has asked on more than a few occasions, “why do you love Kimberly more than me”…the impossible question. Of course, we don’t, however to a 6,7,8 or 9 year old it may appear that way at times. One positive in this scenario is that Virginia knows what it is like to be the sibling of someone who is different, and she knows that Kimberly is partly her responsibility as well. They ride the bus home from school. It is the “bus for people with special needs” as Virginia calls it. She does not begrudge Kimberly for this, or us. At least not now. My sincere hope is that this experience instills a deep compassion in her and not a resentment…the line dividing the two seems infinitely narrow some days.
Watching them play together and interact is truly like a dream come true. It wasn’t two years ago that Kimberly really didn’t know how to play with her sister. The previous lack of verbal communication certainly didn’t help, but it was really beyond that. Parallel play, maybe, but not true interaction.
They have that now and all that it comes with. The fussing, crying, laughter, and screams. Virginia still struggles with how to manage the situation with other children sometimes. On our way to a cookout recently with some old RPD friends, she asked us if other children would be there. I told her yes and explained whose children and their ages. She was glad to hear they were all younger. I asked her why and she told us that older kids ask a lot of questions and even might make fun of Kimberly and her behaviors. She said it was hard to know how to explain it to them. I tried to give her some words to use but I know in my heart it is not the words she was worried about, but more the feeling. I am not sure there is anything I can do about that…One thing I do know for sure is that I love my girls, both of them, dearly.