Yesterday night I watched a TIVOed episode of Oprah in which Sinead O'Connor talked about her diagnosis of Bipolor disorder and how much her childhood played a part in that. While I know I don't have Bipolor (I have the lows but where are the highs?!!) I could relate to so much of what she said about her childhood and living with the constant feeling of fear and tension.
My brother was the cause of most of the tension in our household growing up. "I" used to take out much of his aggresion on me. Lucky me. My mom was constantly on guard when we were little to protect me from my brother - leaving him alone with me generally did not end well. As we got older the physical assaults mostly ended, but the psychological assaults never did. And the fighting between my brother and my parents never ended. My parents insisted on family dinners, a great idea, in theory, but these dinners ultimately ended in yelling and screaming due to "I". The tension was intense. So intense that despite everything my parents (mainly my mom) did to create happy memories, I really remember very little of my childhood. Except the scary parts, which are pretty clear.
The "footprints" of my childhood left their inprints on my soul. I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder in my twenties. It explained a lot to me. It explained why I had such difficulty making friends, why I had such anxiety most of my life, why I had such trouble with emotional attachments all my life, with staying in the moment. It actually made me feel such relief to have a name, a reason.
But it also makes me so overly aware of how important it is to make sure that our attention to A and his Asperger's does not overshadow the other kids. Yesterday in the car B told me, "I wish I had Asperger's Syndrome." That broke my heart. I tried to get him to talk more about that, and after a little bit I told them how much I wish I was as good at blowing up balloons as B was, and as good on computer as A was, and as good at picking out clothes as J was (what can I say, it was spur of the moment) and how wonderful it was that we all have different things that are special about us.
I need to pay attention to how negative I am with B. I have to focus on "catching him being good" instead of constantly telling him not to whine and not yell and not to hit himself on the head ..... the list goes on. I need to make sure he gets equal attention. And I need to make sure that when A is having a rough day (or J - she can throw a tantrum like nobody's business) I do what I can to keep things peaceful, to not allow the screaming of one affect the rest of us.
A tall order, I know, but one that is too important to ignore.