The one person who has surprised me with how supportive and caring he can be is my eldest . He is the one who showed me what motherhood is like, taught me the ups and downs of being a parent, who showed me that the love between a parent and child is unlike any other. When his brother Lucas came along he played the adoring , protective big brother until they got to a certain age and sibling rivalry started and still goes on to this day! Then along came Roo and he was so upset when he realised Roo was different to Lucas and had issues, we were often at the hospital during the first few years of Roo life so he was often sent to his grandparents or aunty house to be looked after along with Lucas. He also started to become difficult and emotional at home and in school he was bullied for a while due to having a disabled brother and parents who were deaf. We put a stop to the bullying but the damage was done. He became angry and resentful esp towards me. Young carers helped for a short time but he soon went back to being so angry and frustrated at life in general & became detached to us, his own family.
Then I became pregnant with Faith and he was over the moon...he told me that he hoped it would be a wee sister as he had enough brothers! He knew I get very ill during pregnancy as he remembered from before his brothers what I was like and slowly he started to change, he would take Lucas downstairs every morn, give him his breakfast, sometimes if Roo was in a tolerant mood he would also ensure Roo got some breakfast while I was so sick. Lucas learned a lot from him and eventually he was able to make himself breakfast and even learned to make me a cup of tea! Without realising my eldest became a role model to his younger brother. Lucas even started to help me care for Roo by helping me to get him ready every morning for school and helping me to lift him whenever he refused to walk.
After Faith's birth I was quite poorly and in a lot of pain and needed a lot of help so when my husband went back to work after a wk Leo took his role as carer quite seriously. I taught him how to hold and pick Faith up safely...he would watch over her while I tended to Roo, other times when I was busy feeding Faith he would tend to Roo, who can be quite difficult at times but he never faulted, he persevered even when Roo didn't want him. Whenever we went out he was given the responsibility of making sure Roo was ok by either pushing his wheelchair or holding his hand while walking, whenever Roo dropped to the ground which was often he would just lift him as he knew I could not do it due to my back condition. He was a completely different boy, very caring, helpful and always wanting to stay by my side, it was like having a personal bodyguard at times...he even tried to be the "adult" to Lucas whenever hubby was at work but Lucas resented it and its often led to arguments!! I have to gently remind Leo that he is his brother and not to "parent" him.
A few weeks back after a very difficult day with Roo I noticed Leo tics were creeping back, he was becoming short tempered, argumentative. I got him to sit with me and we had a chat...he talked of how he found Roo hard work, how he resented that Roo didn't seem to be getting better as he was under the impression that once Roo started school his understanding , communication would be fixed but I explained that isn't the case and that he would always need help and supervision. Leo then said he understood why some days we got so stressed and often ended up in pain with having to lift him in situations that he couldn't deal with. He also spoke of his worries about Faith and it was during our chat that I realised that I had started to rely on him too much, to the point he was starting to struggle. The guilt I felt was awful, I told him that he needed to step back and be a 12 yr old. My health isn't that great and I'm awaiting to see a specialist in the hope that one day I will be pain free and fit again, meanwhile despite my protests Leo remains determined to help me when he sees I'm having a bad day, he lifts Faith every morning, carries her downstairs and watches over her while I get myself dressed and Roo ready for school. When she has a bath he hovers around making sure she is ok even if we are with her, offers to dry her and dress her! I'm aware to not let him do too much but if he askes then I let him rather than me asking all the time and he is starting to relax a bit more...he will always be a carer in some retrospect but as long as he is happy then I will let him help me and his siblings. I am so proud of how much he has matured this past year...his sister's arrival seemed to have done him the world of good. His old self is slowly coming back, he is smiling a lot more, still gets moody and argumentative but that's part of becoming a teenager (!) but most of all he has become a very caring and loving boy....