A huge part of our journey with Jake is the interactions he has with his siblings; Anthony, Nathan & Allie. Until the past 6 months Jake has had a hard time with all three of them. Jake’s first reaction when seeing his brothers (they live on their own) was to scream, run away and cry. It would take him about 30 minutes to warm up to them, almost like he was seeing them for the first time, each time. Jake gave Allie the same response, whenever she would come home from school, a friend’s house or even when she would walk into a room that Jake was in he would scream and run away. It was heartbreaking; I knew the boys and Allie wanted to play with him or give him a hug and Jake wanted no part of it. Even though they would say it was fine, I knew that it wasn’t. I could tell they wanted more from their littlest brother but Jake just didn’t have it in him to interact; something we worked A LOT. We would show him pictures of his brothers and sister and tell Jake to say “Hi _____”. Jake would cry and fought it but eventually got it and so the change began. Jake will now greet his brothers with a smile, high 5 and sometimes a hug. When I tell Jake that he is going to see Anthony or Nathan he gets so excited and always has a huge smile on his face when he sees them. When Allie (AKA Sissy) comes home from school, a friend’s house or walks into the room Jake will run up to her and say “Hi, Sissy”. I love this and I truly love seeing him become so happy at the mere mention of their names!
If you follow my blog then you know we have cut way back on therapy this summer. There have been times when I questioned my decision but almost immediately that question is squashed. I was sharing with some friends yesterday how this is the first time in 2 years that Allie has gotten to spend a lot of time with Jake. Although I knew this fact, I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought until now. The past two summers we have spent so much time involved in therapy that when Allie was at home Jake usually wasn’t and vice versa so the only real interaction they had was just a few hours in the afternoon/evening which usually meant Jake was screaming at Sissy, Sissy getting upset, me trying to coax Jake to sit with his sister or just say ‘hi, sissy’. It was painful for all of us. Their relationship has changed so much over the past 5 weeks. Jake seeks her out, he will go into her room and independently say ‘play with me, Sissy’ or she will come into the den and Jake will jump up and down and say “Sissy’s back”. Many times it is really cute to watch them together other times they behave like typical siblings with the usual bickering etc. Here is how that usually goes Sissy: Jake stop climbing on that, Jake: No, Jake do, Sissy: Jake I said stop, Jake: No, Sissy…it goes on from there. Even though their bickering gets on my nerves at times, okay not at times…the bickering always gets on my nerves – ha…but when I really think about it I smile because hey…he has learned how to talk, express his feelings to some degree and he is behaving like a typical sibling, bickering and all. Because there is an eleven year age difference between them, Allie is like Jake’s second mom. If I am busy he will now go to her and ask her for help. Allie babysits, makes him lunch, dinner, takes him to the potty or whatever it is that Jake needs. If Jake knows she is home he wants to be in her room, he wants to know what she is doing — basically he wants to be with her. Jake cannot and will not go to bed without giving her a hug and a kiss and if Allie has a friend over they get at least a kiss too. Such a HUGE HUGE change from the boy he was 6 months ago!!
These past 5 weeks have been better than I ever thought possible. We have spent a lot of time together but most of it has been good…well, not good it has actually been great. Allie has gotten to really connect with Jake in ways she hasn’t been able to before. I think some of it has to do with the fact that she is older but more than that I believe it has to do with the fact that Allie gets to be with Jake more than just one or two days a week. We have normal days; cleaning the house, running errands and then the fun stuff too. We don’t have to schedule time around Jake’s schedule for the pool, park or whatever it is we want to do which means we have a lot more time to just be. Last night Allie told me she had a great “bonding” experience with Jake. She told me that they played, sang, ran around, laughed and just had fun. When Jake went to bed she kept saying how funny Jake is and how much she loved her “bonding time”. Words I love to hear, words I have been waiting to hear. Allie left this morning to go on a week-long mission trip and even though she is excited to go and as she says “take a break from Jake” I know she will miss him greatly. She wouldn’t let me put him to bed last night without giving him a huge hug and kiss. The awesome thing about this isn’t that Allie loves him or wanted to hug him but that Jake wanted to hug and kiss her too. He waited patiently (well, as patient as a 4-year-old can) for her to get out of the shower. While we waited Jake said “I give Sissy a big hug and kiss”.
The relationship that Jake has developed with his brothers and sister over the last several months is better than I thought possible. Something I had hope and prayed for; something I dreamed about too! I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again but it is SO nice to see all of the long hours of therapy paying off!!