I was watching the boys the morning this photo was taken. Baby F has crawled up to J and pulled at his leg to come up. J carefully(ish) pulled his brother up and helped him sit on him. Together they were exploring the iPad. Obviously it didn’t last long as a 1 year old doesn’t quite understand that smushing the iPad with your hand isn’t really how to play so J wanted it back to himself shortly after.
J is autistic and part of his sensory issues is proprioception. He has little concept of personal space and likes to have things squashing him (heavy blankets – even in summer are a favourite). So for him, having his rather heavy lump on a baby brother squashing him is not a problem for him. F can climb up as much as he wants and J won’t bat an eye lid. F isn’t as keen on the reverse though and J is learning that babies do like their own space to play and explore.
One of the advantages of lockdown 2020, is seeing the relationship between these boys grow. When F was born J was at nursery and when it was the summer holidays F was only a little baby. Then in September J went to school and so F only really saw his brother for short periods and weekends up until he was 11 months. That’s not to say there wasn’t a bond there – there was…but it was more helpful big brother getting things for little brother. Whereas now it’s become more of an emotional attachment.
I see F crawl over to J for attention. I see J able to recognise what it is F wants when he cries (usually as he wants the cry to stop (ASAP). I see them begin to play together (F will follow J around, which J has turned into a sort of game of chase!). I see the love between them and it’s started to feel like a proper brotherly bond has formed.
There are times J gets frustrated. There’s times he wants attention from myself or Daddy but he’s had to wait because F needs the attention more in that moment. He will often ask me to put F in his walker and isn’t too happy when I say I can’t right now. He’s been the only child for 4 years and with Autism he does expect things to happen ‘here and now’ esp if part of routine. Daddy and I try to give him as much 1:1 time as we can and he has two evenings a week he can stay up late – one for movie night and one for family Xbox night (another advantage of lockdown is no need to worry about later bedtimes).
I remember when I was pregnant and J kicked me in the stomach. He hadn’t meant to. He was in meltdown and going through a transition between places (which is always a tricky moment). He was 3 at the time and he kicked out without thinking (I went and got checked out at the hospital and F was tucked away and perfectly happy). I laid in bed panicking over whether F would be able to cope with a baby. I mean, it was a bit late as baby was on its way, but I worried about whether he’d bond with the baby. Whether he’d cope with all the changes and the sensory aspect of babies. I re-read a post I wrote whilst pregnant about J and telling him about being Mummy being pregnant, and it makes me smile.
Turns out I didn’t need to worry. I won’t lie and say the love was there right away between the boys. When J came to see me at the hospital he barely looked at his brother. He was more interested in cuddling up to me with his iPad (craving some sort of ‘normal’ after few days of change). He would hide under the kitchen table at nappy changes and be disgusted by the vomit (caused by a milk allergy). But over a few weeks and months, J would spend more time sat with F. He would watch and get things before I’d even asked. He would tell family what F was doing and why. There was shift once F started crawling. I think the fact he approaches J is what changed things. I think it made J see F as a companion and more than that wriggly creature he has to be so gentle with.
I’m not sure if this bond would have developed so strongly if it wasn’t for lockdown. Maybe in the summer holidays it would have progressed but now it’s accelerating and I love watching it. I hope that the boys grow up to be best friends and look out for each other.