I write a lot about my 12 year old son with ADHD. My Facebook page, twitter and personal journals, are filled with stories, frustrations and worries about him. My friends and family ask how things are with the boys and I always start off with what is happening with him. Life has been hectic lately and in thinking about everything, it dawned on me that my other son has been so lost in his brother’s shadow, I often forget he needs me too.
Little Son, I’m sorry, I’ve missed you. I’m sorry that you often have to yell even louder than your brother in order to be heard. And then, because you are being so loud, in frustration, I yell at you to stop. Because with Big Son around, it is already so loud and chaotic and when you chime in, my world goes dark and I need it to stop. I’m sorry that Big Son is the one I talk about most with friends and family and that you most likely hear this. Granted, the talked is usually about how frustrated/worried/stressed/overwhelmed I am, but I doubt in your 7 year old world that matters much.
I’m so sorry that homework time is usually you doing your work all on your own, while I wrestle, cajole and spend my evening trying to help Big Son. You sit like a little champ and do your math problems, reading and spelling review. And I don’t often take the time to praise you for what a good job you do, because I am so worried that Big Son will hear and feel bad about himself. I let my fear of his reaction keep me from gushing about your greatness.
I feel so guilty that you often have to endure my bad moods in the mornings, because I am at my wits end trying to get Big Son out the door. You go upstairs, get dressed (with socks AND clean underwear!!), brush your teeth and try to brush your hair. I come up and see Big Son playing with the dog, in dirty underwear only, no socks and with the mask from his Halloween costume on. I yell. You look at me with your big, blue eyes and I can see that you’ve noticed. You’ve noticed that I DIDN’T notice. You see that once again, my focus is on Big Son.
I’m sorry Big Son is so mean to you. I wish I could explain the sibling thing, but being an only child, I’m at a loss. I am told the fighting is normal, but I see how much you adore your brother and how when he is mean to you, your little face falls, your eyes look down and you deflate a little. You’re not stupid (in fact, you’re super smart), you’re not a baby. I think you’re amazing. But I don’t say these things, because I worry Big Son will think I am comparing you two and he’ll see the comparison is unequal, tipped greatly to your side. He might feel worse about himself and that might make things even worse for you. I try hard not to compare you two, because I know you are different people, with different personalities, struggles and strengths. In my not comparing, I also have not given you the praise and attention you need. You DESERVE!
But I think the time has come for me to realize it is not ALL about Big Son. You need me too. You need validation, praise, rewards and thank you’s, independent of Big Son and you need this whether he gets the same or not. You need to know how amazing you are, how kind, funny, and wicked smart. You’re in 2nd grade and reading and doing math at a 3rd grade level. You’re so flipping coordinated in basketball (and most sports for that matter) that I am blown away when I watch you. Then my heart aches when I tell you how talented you are and you look sad and say, “I’m not any good.”
YOU ARE GOOD! You are more than good; you are amazing. And while I have said I have the goal of helping Big Son navigate his way through a non-ADHD world, my goal is helping you navigate your way too. I want you to feel seen, heard and proud of everything you bring to this world. Because you bring a ton Little Son.
There will be no more shadow for you to get lost behind. I want the light to shine on your wonder, your greatness and your beautiful strawberry hair and gorgeous blue eyes. I want you to KNOW and FEEL this light. You’ll never walk in the shadows again.
I love you.