Sibling Love

We expected that the adjustment of adopting Jaydn would be much like adding any child to a family: some displacement jealousy, especially with Jovie, but not a whole lot else. Looking back, we were both right and wrong.

When Jay came home Jovie shifted from the baby to the middle child. She didn't get to "transition" into the older sibling role since Jaydn is only 4.5 months younger than she is. Instantly Jovie had an equal. She had to start sharing her room, toys, clothes, brother, mom and dad, car seat, sippy cups you name it! For the first year or so it was REALLY hard. It was a wild combination of the stage Jo was in at the time, her personality, all the transitions we had at the same time (moving 2x, starting school for the first time, adding to the family, job change for Nathan, me going to work for a time etc). There were days I didn't know if it would ever get easier. But Jovie has taken on her big sister role like a champ now. Sometimes she turns into more of a bossy mom and she does get frustrated with communication or Jaydn not understanding instructions but the love is there as a base in all that she does. One of my favorite things to see is when Jaydn is waking up from a nap and I can't get to her quickly, I often send Jo to the room and with gentleness and nurture she helps transition Jay from sleep to life again. They love to hold hands when they walk up the stairs together and play dress up or dolls as little girls often do.

I will never forget the afternoon we took the girls to Chick Fil A as a celebration lunch for Jovie's birthday. They were in the playground area being silly and crazy as always when they were joined by two  boys. The 4 interacted well for about 10 minutes until I could tell through the glass that Jovie was reprimanding one of the boys then scampered off. Apparently he didn't heed to her words because moments later she was pushing the door 4x her size out of the way to get to me as soon as she was able. She explained to me that the older boy was picking on Jaydn and would scream and then run away every time she came around and that she didn't like it. I looked inside and Jaydn was completely oblivious to the implications of this teasing and just kept playing around while the boy fearfully looked through at Jovie ratting him out. I calmly walked into the play area, got the attention of the boys and said, "My daughter would appreciate it if you would treat her sister with respect from now on while you play. Can you do that?" With a shy but sure voice the boy said, "Yes, ma'am." I walked away so proud of Jovie and inwardly celebrating the fact that she had developed that protective sibling feeling toward Jaydn all in her own time.

Similarly Jaxon has honored his baby sister in the way he handles the more difficult questions from his environment regarding race and his family. One particular friend of his is quite the racist and frequently he and Jax will have heated conversations about it. Each time it happens Jaxon responds with more wisdom than I could teach him in 7 years. The first time, his friend was explaining why he wasn't inviting certain classmates to his birthday party because they were black and they weren't allowed at his house. Without skipping a beat Jax replied with, "I feel bad for you because you are missing out! Some of my favorite people are brown." Many times he has come home so heartbroken that his friend is so misguided.

As part of a school project Jaxon had to come up with 5 special events from his life that he would have to write a report about. Although they are still working on that assignment at school, 2 of the events he chose to write in depth about were when Jovie was born and the day Jaydn came home. I swelled up with joy realizing that Jaxon views both those events as great things that have happened in his life. What a gift.

While Jaxon and Jaydn don't often have time alone together to develop their unique bond as brother and sister, he is quick to include her in everything and makes sure she doesn't get left behind (unless he is mad and wants to make her cry- ah the joy of brothers). Though I have to laugh when at dinner as Jaydn is scarfing her food down as always Jaxon calls out to her, "Slow down! We aren't going to take your food. You are safe."

In looking back I can see how Nathan and I have grown as parents through the challenges. I can also glimpse some of the reasons why God might have allowed these challenges to touch all our children as well. It could be that in the future they might need some extra compassion for the struggles of others or a better understanding of how grieving and trauma affects people. It could be that the extra patience they develop through all of this may help them with their own kids. Often God grows us spiritually through difficulty so I will trust that this adventure He led us on will be one that will benefit every member of our family.

1 comment:

plumie said...

Bless you Gaddis clan! You are an inspiration!