Have you ever noticed that a seemingly simple task can quickly grow exceedingly complicated? Of late, we've been trying to arrange a trip with my whole family. Gone are the days of one car, Dad as the benevolent dictator and a few suitcases. We're all grown now, so this means multiples of everything: families, requests and demands and yes, even challenging problems that require sensitive handling. Negotiations for the excursion are now underway. For example, I had to guilt my sister into coming - but the persuasion comes with a hitch; if my brother bails out, she will too. I find it funny that while we've all grown up under the same roof with the same parents, we're all so very different. But, what else is new? When I look at my own children, I see three very distinctively unique people. Our tendency is to think that we treat them all the same, but the reality is that it's just not possible.
In our family, our oldest son who has cerebral palsy gets more time than the others and probably gets treated differently than his siblings too. Just the other day, I was hanging Christmas lights on the house and my middle son was helping me while his older brother was permitted to just sit in front of the computer playing a game. While the helper at my side was happy to assist this time around, there have been plenty of occasions when it's been a fight to get him away from what he wants to do - such as play video games with his older brother! Facts are facts. I ask him to do more because he can and because sometimes it is just easier. When I was young, my brother had his turn helping Dad until he moved out. His responsibilities were then passed to me. Because I had seen my brother help dad, I knew what was expected. Yet, circumstances are different in the West home these days. My middle son has a legitimate complaint and challenge; he must now initiate what he's never seen his older brother do first. When my middle son was younger, he said he wished he had Cerebral palsy. This was his way of saying he wanted the same attention his brother was getting. In other words, he wanted all the attention without having to do all the work. Who wouldn't want that! I hope that over time, he will grow to understand that families who encounter and deal with disabilities on a daily basis don't always get to play by the same rules of engagement common in regular family life. And while reality suggests they won't always like it, we hope they will at least come to understand why it must be.