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Dec 2

Amor Vincit Omnia

Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 in Family, Philosophy

Puppychild is going through a phase of trying to understand love.

Last month she loved everything.  I love bath, I love spider, I love squishy… now she’s growing cynical and is realising that not everything is deserving of her love, so she questions me about it.  A lot.

“Mommy, do you love Daddy?” she’d ask.

“Yes I love Daddy.  Do you love Daddy?”

“Yeah I love Daddy.  Do you love Wouldye?”

“Yes I love Wouldye.  Do you love Wouldye?”… and so on.  We go through everybody in the family, but the same thing always happens when we come to Laughingboy;  flat denial of any feelings whatsoever.

“But he’s your brother!” I’d implore.  “Don’t you love your brother?”

“No.”

I don’t push it or ask why, because I don’t want to cause a nasty complex, and besides – I kind of understand how she feels.  Puppychild has no maternal bond.  She has a brother who doesn’t play with her, who doesn’t talk to her or push her around.  He’s boring, and more often than not, insists on shouting or crying loudly over her favourite films.  He takes up valuable Mommy time that could be spent painting pictures or horsing around, and for all this sacrifice, there’s little or no return.

I went through a strange phase like that.

Children return love.  They give you sticky kisses and violent hugs.  Dogs return love by licking and tail-wagging.  Even cats can return affection if they’re grateful enough, but Laughingboy was always quite the opposite.  For all the time I spent caring for him, there was no reward… no ‘thank you’, no kisses, no ‘I love you Mommy’.  This in itself is a very difficult thing to get used to.

Thing is, I’m grown up now and I understand that enough love – visible or not – can conquer anything, but I don’t have to face schoolkids. I don’t have to defend myself when they find out my brother is broken, and either tease me unmercifully or tell me I’m the sister of a retard.  I never had to face something that tough as a kid.

How can I teach my little girl how to love her brother?  What will be her reward when she loyally defends her family against an onslaught of verbal abuse and teasing?  Laughingboy will never deserve an ounce of resentment but I can feel it growing already, helpless to do anything but lead by example, and perhaps introduce her to Nirvana a little earlier than planned.

The future scares me sometimes.

Bring on the comments

  1. The interaction with her brother right now, doesn’t push her childhood buttons.

    But I know from experience, that when push comes to shove, often literally, she loves him with everything she has.

    He doesn’t sing and dance with her like you do, or spoil her like daddy does, but the time will come when she won’t need that kind of stimulation to flick on the ‘love’ switch.

    Your fear in the future may very well be valid, but not for the lack of love.

  2. susan says:

    Oh you and me both. I think that if my son’s rejected by his own sister (and he is), then what will his future and other relationships be like?

    But, maybe we should just forget about future things. There’s too much fun to have with them right now, after all, and very likely their rivalry will be something they’ll laugh at together later. I hope.

  3. Holemaster says:

    A friend of mine often says to me “when you’re finished with that crystal ball can I have a go of it”.

    I have to stop myself from spending today imagining how tomorrow doesn’t turn out.

  4. He’s just different, but better! My sister got picked on quite a bit because I was “Different” and in the hospital a lot. She learned early how to throw one hell of a punch. To this day, if anyone looks at me in a strange way or tries to demean me, she’s on them faster than lightning can split a Poplar! I don’t need her help anymore, but I know she’s there if I do.

    She’ll come around.

  5. From what I’ve seen of such situations she may well become his strongest defender. Don’t borrow trouble mrs. it’s a bad habit I have to get myself out of too.

  6. Tinman18 says:

    She WILL love him, and defend him to the ends of the earth, in time.

    When you feel she’s old enough, gradually explain that he’s different, and try to get her to help you with him.

    I don’t envy her the schoolyears ahead either, but in the end it will strength her feelings for him.

  7. Kate says:

    As the very proud mother of two ‘grown up’ children I have some news to impart – sibling rivalry is alive and well and starts at birth. In your case it is challenged by the fact that your son is special and cannot air his views on the matter.

    Your daughter, however, is not old enough yet to understand that the love between siblings is not a matter of choice – it is there – and cannot be changed. Sometimes the sibling is not liked very much and sometimes anger can make the feelings akin to hatred but there is always an underlying hidden wrench at the heart – almost the ‘he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother’ of the song.

    Puppychild will grow and believe me you will not be able to measure the force with which she manages her love for her family – all her family!

  8. Baino says:

    Kate, she’s 3 . . she’s barely aware of herself let alone others. Don’t think too deeply about it. She’ll come to understand over time and I agree with Thrifty, she’ll see the sense in it and stand up for him. At the moment, he’s taking your attention, depriving her of some ‘me’ time and not much fun to play with. It’ll pass as she ages and understands that he’s different but has his own merits. I think some parents try to reason and rationalise too early in their child’s development. Answer her questions truthfully and succinctly but don’t give her the whole kit and caboodle. If she asks for the time, don’t tell her how to make the watch . . those conversations will happen much later on.

  9. im going to be 40 and I still think of ways to incite a riot amongst my siblings…life is good.

  10. K8 says:

    Xbox; You’re right, these are early days. It’s just that the ‘No’ is always so sinister, it made me wonder.

    Susan; Enjoy the moment… got it. Wise lady :)

    Holemaster; Excellent saying. Stitching up the auld holes in the pockets is a boring task!

    Jefferson; I see visits to the Principal’s office ahead – outward chastisement but inner pride :)

    Thriftcriminal; Trouble keeps leaving really annoying little post-it notes in my head… it’s hard to ignore it!!!

    Tinman18; I’ve a feeling it’s more like talks about strength and turning the other cheek are needed, along with some sly fighting tips from her Da. That stuff is hard to explain, especially given that I’m a complete wuss!

    Kate; Thanks for the heads up :) Very wise words.

    Baino; Gawd, good advice petal. You’re dead right, there’s absolutely no point in freaking out. Yet. I’m jealous of her feistiness though, I never had that.

    Kingo’NYhacks; You mean like the old ‘fart in a jar – heat it – roll it’ sort of riot? There are many advantages to being an only child ;)

  11. I think you know the answer. You said it yourself. You lead by example: you love unconditionally even though you may not get it back. You’re her whole world, you guys, and she’ll adore you all, with time!

    Here at English Towers, our ears often ring to the sound of ‘I HATE YOU!’ arguments. But I’m sure deep down there’s some affection there. Probably ;)

  12. Jo says:

    Yes, lead by example, and explain she’ll find a different way to love him, in time.

    My daughter loves her brother and hates him, all day long.

    Tell her the secret is to unlock his mysteries, the ones we can’t understand or get to. Maybe she can find the key one day.

  13. I don’t think she has to be taught. My mother had two brothers, one is severely autistic and one is a lawyer (ba dum bum).

    She loved her autistic brother more than I ever imagined. It was true, real, and pure. Probably better than she had with anyone else.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. That was some picture. I definitely would have needed a time out after that. One that involved lots of liquor.

  14. Hil says:

    Have been reading you for a while. This piece is so touching, just felt I had to say something.

  15. Kirk M says:

    Having the future scare you, especially when you’re a mother, is normal so no worries there. It should scare you a bit from time to time but never keep you from providing the best example you can. English Mum said it well enough as well as others.

    Besides, they’re young yet. If you could fast forward yourself 5 years in the future and take a peep you probably wouldn’t even recognize them they’d be acting so differently.

    In my case, I was the one in the hospital the majority of the time over a period between the ages of 6 and 12 with a lovely condition called rheumatic fever. 104 to 105 degree (F) temps for days on end. Made me quite strange for about 6 additional years after that.

    My sister (she was younger than me by 2 years) never gave up on me even through the many times I wanted nothing to do with her love and caring, even when I flat out rejected her she stuck with me. And I’m sure my mother was plenty scared there for awhile.

    My point is that I made it just fine and I love my sister and she loves me although we still argue like cats and dogs. Puppy Child will show her love for her brother soon enough. She’s has a great mother after all. ;)

  16. K8 says:

    Englishmum; Heee! I love that- ‘probably’ you stuck in there :)

    Jo; That’s very true… I have to say she was very empathetic when he lost his tooth, she goes through empathetic phases – that’s sound advice – thanks :)

    Kylie; Thanks – it’s good to hear stories like that, though preferably stories not involving nutella or emulsion!!!

    Hil; Hello :) Thanks for sticking in the comment, I always love it when strangers pop in.

    Kirk M; You certainly have fought some fierce battles, I’m in awe of your stamina! I guess that’s what it really all boils down to… strength and support. I dunno if I’d qualify as a great mother, but I’m doin’ me hairy breast :) Thanks for sayin’ so but.

  17. Kirk M says:

    K8,

    No buts, your hairy breast will do just fine. I can’t imagine what it was like for my parents bringing up their “broken” son when I was but a single digit midget. “The doctors” said it was very possible that I’d never be able to walk normally, have a weak heart, I’d twitch a lot, have smelly feet and dandruff.

    I’m happy to say that by the time I left home I walked just fine, my heart was sound as a bell, my feet did not smell and I only had dandruff if I failed to shower for 3 days in a row.

    Considering I didn’t miss a grade of school and was able enough to pass the horrendously tight qualifications for entering the US Naval Submarine Force and work like hell for 30 years after I left home at 18…I’d say they did a pretty decent job of it.

    You’re situation may not be the same but you’ll do fine nonetheless. All it takes is faith and one day at a time. Ask me how I know this. ;)

  18. Kirk M says:

    Oops, looks like I missed a closing tag there. It was supposed to italicize “did not”. Not the whole thing. Sorry about that. We need to install that “Ajax Edit Comments” plugin for you so numbasahakes like me can edit their mistakes.

  19. K8 says:

    Fixed :)

    Dandruff and smelly feet?!? That’s a very specific diagnosis, I’m so glad they were wrong.

    Ok I’ll bite, how do you know this?

  20. Kirk M says:

    Oh now, that was a rhetorical question and you know it. :P

  21. Adam says:

    Is your kid really called Puppychild?

  22. K8 says:

    Yes she’s called Puppychild, I can’t remember what her original name is at this stage, I must ask her teacher, she’s bound to know.

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