Performing Brotherhood

Kit and Joey are learning together right now: in ABA, Joey is working on mastering appropriate gestures to the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and Kit is studying right alongside him (right now, they are both stuck on “head”). Neither of them pronounce things very clearly, but Kit uses more words and strings them together—the other day, when they were both weepy and tired (after skipping their naps, and right before dinner) and sitting in my lap, Kit gently pushed at Joey’s leg and said “Mama my turn!” Joey snuggled against me and glared at Kit. It’s fascinating for me to be able to watch them develop a relationship—Kit ends up doing a lot of the legwork, but he doesn’t have to do all of it. Last week, they figured out that the irritating electronic toys they couldn’t find were in the back of the coat closet; Joey opened the door, and when I investigated the mysterious “Lights on! Lights off! Lights on!” cheery electronic chant, I found the two of them in the closet together. They were willing to accept my compromise—I will bring the toys out now if you will stay out of the closet—but now that the toys have disappeared to the back of a different closet, they are exploring together again.

Of course there’s an element, for me, of watching these brothers together and wondering how they will react to that other brother—and he to them. Kit and Cricket have never met. The last time that Joey and Cricket were together, Cricket was going through a lot of mostly lousy life changes, and he took some of that out on Joey. Joey was completely unable to deal with that. Now we’re better understanding what Joey needs—more than one of his behavioral therapists have volunteered to come and help facilitate that first meeting at the park—and he has better skills to express his needs. And Cricket seems to be in a much more stable and nurturing environment. And still there’s a part of me that remembers Joey trying to hug Cricket, and being shoved, and I clench inside. Kit is so cheery and enthusiastic, and Joey—when he’s sweet, there’s no one sweeter in the world. I hope that Cricket is in a place to respond in kind.

Either way, I’m glad to have planned a few hours of just me and Nora and Cricket. It’s true that I’ve decided to prioritize relationships between the boys over a relationship between Cricket and me—but if it’s possible to have it all, heck, I’ll take it.