There was a time, as recently as 18 months ago, when J and TGG were close. Not as close as they were when they were children, of course, but close. J looked up to his brother, and would defend him when he thought some sort of travesty was being committed against him.
TGG wanted, more than anything else, to have a baby brother. The moment J was born, he became his champion. As very small children (before J started showing signs of Autism) they were always playing together, and they would -unbelievable as it may sound- laugh in their sleep as if they had the happiest of worlds possible.
This altered here and there as they grew older. They had different interests, and J’s Autism played a role in how they interacted. They still were close, though. If TGG went away for a couple of nights, J would then sleep on top of him when he returned. If the weather was bad and TGG was out at night, J would start asking for his brother…quite insistently.
They went to the movies together. They assembled Legos together. They exercised together. They went to eat together. TGG helped J with things, and J protected TGG from his parents’ “sit down; we’re having a talk” moments.
And then, inevitably, TGG took a turn in his own direction and the link broke.
Yes, it was bound to happen. Yes, people grow up and apart. Yes, TGG has a right to his own life. Yes, we understand. Yes, J should……….
TGG’s timing and execution were not the best, though. Like many other people who don’t know better, he simply packed his stuff and left. We know, even if it’s hard to digest, that he was probably sick of playing second banana to J. This, of course, is what TGG’s impression of his life always was: he was second banana to J.
What TGG hasn’t yet understood, and it might take him a lifetime to realize, is that -absolutely- we have had to do for his brother things we didn’t do for him, BUT…we did our best to give TGG all that he wanted and needed. TGG was, in fact, rather spoiled.
The best Christmas haul? Always TGG. Trips away from home FOR FUN? TGG. Car, iPod, parties, clothes, toys? TGG. He was the one with after-school activities. He was the one with friends. He was the one with a bike. He got a guitar, a keyboard. He got swimming lessons. He was a Boy Scout. He was in theater. He played soccer. He went on sleepovers. He had sleepovers at home. We didn’t miss one performance, one event, one ceremony. When he graduated from high school, TGG got a fantastic lunch at a ridiculously expensive restaurant. We encouraged him. We supported him. We spent absurd amounts of money trying to help him find his way. If he had asked to go to the NY Film Academy (which we offered, by the way,) we would’ve spent money on that. He has had more cell phones than I’ve had bras. He has gone to Broadway shows at Broadway theaters.
We didn’t just give him things, mind you. We gave him love. I have never made any bones about TGG being my favorite. He was my golden child. He was told day after day he is beautiful, smart, funny, talented, charming, sweet. He was told how bright his future was, and we encouraged him to pursue whatever he wants.
I made costumes for Halloween, read stories, sang songs, played pretend games, taught him to climb trees, catch frogs. I built pirate ships, fortresses, castles. I played video games. I rocked him to sleep while I hummed. I was always there when he was sick, or scared, or worried, or needed me. Dada was the same. Dada didn’t miss a thing that TGG had going on. Dada carried him into the ER when he split his knee open. Dada ran to his aid when he crashed his car. Dada taught him to ride a bike, swim, change a flat…
We didn’t prefer J over TGG, and TGG was never deprived of anything.
TGG simply has other things he wants, and his way of getting to them is not the most graceful.
He still should have considered his brother’s feelings. Not because J would have taken this easily either way, but because J wouldn’t feel like TGG abandoned him.
It was months between TGG moving out and TGG coming to visit. He lived less than half an hour away, and he worked nearby. J didn’t take this kindly.
It has become a problem since. Now J sees TGG arrive and he knows that either something is being sent to TGG’s house, or TGG has a problem and needs help. Or TGG is broke. Or TGG is bringing his family over.
J’s face always says “why now?” Last year was a rough year; we’ve enumerated the changes before. TGG’s sudden return (with news, of course, of another baby on the way) didn’t help J process life any better. Shortly after TGG’s reappearance, J started having anxiety issues again.
We don’t see TGG often, and we don’t expect to either. He has made his life, and we are pretty much aware that there is little to no love lost between us and his new family. We are here for him, and he knows it. (He knows it so well that he tries to have with us conversations he should be having with his girlfriend, but that is neither here nor there.)
TGG stopped by yesterday, and J was…not happy? He was annoyed. TGG came up to him and hugged him hello, and J looked at me over his brother’s shoulder as if to say “WTF?” No sooner had we come into the house that J turned to TGG and said (quite clearly, and in a tone that seemed to issue a warning) BE GOOD! He repeated this several times while TGG was here, and he couldn’t wait for TGG to leave.
The rest of the day was iffy. It was a four-packets-of-bandaids day. J was anxious, nervous, antsy, irritable. The one thing he kept asking was if we were happy. We have noticed this pattern lately: the phone rings, or a message beeps in the iMessage or the cell phone (a whole week with the iPhones and J HATES them,) and J gets anxious. He makes up put the iPad or the iPhone away (IF we have taken the thing out of the closet for any reason,) and he stared at the iMessage when it’s up on the computer screen.
The only thing we have come up with, while analyzing the situation, is that TGG was perpetually distracted by his iPhone, and that he is the person who messages or calls with any consistency or frequency. And when TGG visits, J gets upset.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Are we horrible people? Are we bad parents? Is J just not into his brother anymore? No matter what we do to give this a positive spin, J cannot even stand hearing us have a conversation about TGG…
Feel free to chime in.