My Family

My Family
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Always Greener on the Other Side

As long as we've been raising children there have been disparities in the expectations between siblings. Chad joined us when Conor was just 2 and Jonathan was born shortly afterwards.  So, there have always been siblings whose abilities were sharply different than other siblings.  Explaining why this is and why our expectations for the typical will be different takes time and maturity for the kids to understand.

I have often heard complaints about how unfair it was/is that the typicals have to do chores the atypicals didn't.  My approach is generally to try to help them appreciate how blessed they are that they can perform chores or do homework on their own.  Occasionally I'd hear out of exasperation, "I wish I could be like Chad and never have to do anything."  By the way, he did and does do some chores, but his abilities are definitely limited.  That comment would always lead me to ask them to really think about whether they'd like to trade places.  If you were Chad you'd never drive, never date or possibly marry, rarely get to choose what you'd like to eat because you can't cook or learn to, can't take a pain reliever if you have a headache or even tell someone else you need a pain reliever or travel without someone else choosing the time and activity.  "Do you really want to trade places?"

Someone once said to Mark how much they envied Chad as he had such a carefree life.  No worries or troubles.  Mark's reply was essentially what makes you think just because Chad's not worried about business problems like you that his worries are any less important or troublesome.  Maybe his worries are more basic, but if someone forgets to get him lunch at his usual time why would he not be concerned about whether he's ever getting lunch.  What if something frightens him, but he can't tell anyone what that is to be reassured or have it explained.  Mark's feeling was basically, how dare you think just because your concerns involve money or a business that makes them bigger than Chad's basic concerns.  To Chad they are hugely important, doesn't matter if you think so or not.

I never had a kid try to further argue that they'd still rather be him.  Now, I think Chad has a pretty terrific life and he seems quite happy with it.  However, he does have his frustrations and we can't really know if he loves the life we've chosen for him.  He can make some choices, but the pool from which he chooses is decided by us.

I wonder how frustrated Chad would be if he could understand the choices we typicals make and why.  I wonder if it would drive him crazy to think we could have made all kinds of different choices, but didn't choose them because of fear or insecurity.  I'm thinking if I were Chad and became typical overnight I'd have some choice words for me.  "Why didn't you do this, why did you waste time on that?"  "I would have taken advantage of every opportunity if I'd had all that you have."

Isn't that just how it goes.  I always think I know what's best for other people and could do it so much better.  Why wouldn't Chad?  It's what I would do and really that's the point.  Chad is just like me - and you too.

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