The Big Brother Visited, Part 1.

It has taken me a long time to write a blog about our adventure with my kiddos’ brother.  This isn’t because of a lack of interesting material.  It was definitely interesting.  But, I was so darn exhausted at the end of each night.  I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to say.  Let alone, stay awake to type it.  So, I decided that I would sum it up when it was all over.  And, then there was the extra bonus (used with extreme sarcasm) of finding out, the day after Patrick left, that our dog had Lymphoma and there was nothing that could be done.  I’ll spare you my weepy explanations about how losing my dog tore me apart because that’s not what this blog is about.  But, yeah, it sucked.  

So, anyway, three weeks later, I’m down to 3 kids again and no dog.  But, I do have the will to blog.

So, I guess I’m going to do a fancy retrospective blog. Well, probably a few blogs because there’s no way that I could fit it into one without losing everyone half-way through. 🙂

So, this will be “The Big Brother Visited: the mini-series!”

And here we go…

I spent 2 weeks and 3 days of my summer with my children’s brother.  And I learned why I got the reactions that I got from smarter people than me when I told them that he is 12. 

He is a troubled 12 year old who has been through too much.  He is also a boy that wants to love and be loved, but really, really has no clue how.  At times, I wanted to wrap my arms around him and show him how to love and, at times, I wanted to throw him off a roof.  I experienced every emotion that I can think of.  From excitement to frustration to loving to seriously pissed off to pride to…ok, I’ll stop, but the point is it was very emotionally eventful. 

On the day of his arrival, we spent the day frantically preparing.  So, of course, when he got here, we were exhausted.  So, the case worker pulled into our driveway and here comes Patrick, casually wandering in with a suitcase.  I was so nervous.  Every time that we had seen him in the past, he had been fairly quiet; so I was expecting some challenges in trying to get him to talk to us.  That turned out to be an unrealistic expectation. 

After visiting for awhile, his case worker pulled out of the driveway.  We walked into the house and he started talking.  And, he didn’t stop.  And we were totally thrown.  He talked to us about the boys’ skin and hair (and what we should be doing differently), wrestling (not my favorite moments), and anything else that popped into his head.  Ok, what is going on?  Then at the end of the night, he casually told us that William asked if he wanted to stay permanently and he said that he could do that.  We ended the night, feeling pretty good about things, totally thrown that this kid had basically just asked us to adopt him, and wondering if we should.

The next day, we took him to one of our favorite restaurants.  He was mightily unimpressed.  He laid down for most of the meal and had no patience for his brothers.  I started to see his stubborn streak and his need for control.  I did understand why.  In my head, I got that these kids feel so out of control that they have to get control in any way possible.  I had experienced it with William.  But dealing with a need for control in a William and a bitter 12 year old; now, that’s why they invented the cliche “apples and oranges.”

One of my favorite examples is this.  We got in the van.  Everyone buckled up, except for Patrick.  Brian casually asked him to buckle up.  He casually ignored him.  I asked him with a jokey voice that was full of eggshells and he sighed, but didn’t buckle.  It took at least two more requests before he finally gave in.  Ridiculous, really.  We’re trying to make sure you arrive safely at our destination and this is what you are going to fight us on?  I didn’t think too much of it, at the time, because, well, I didn’t want to.  I wanted everything to be rosy and easy.  But, obviously, that’s not possible.

The first few days passed and we quickly departed the official honeymoon phase.  Actually, I think we left that after the first night, if lying down in a restaurant was any evidence.  And, although, he was pleasant to me, said please when asking for food, didn’t kick holes in the wall, or shave my eyebrows in my sleep; it wasn’t going as well as I hoped.

It was clear, pretty quickly, that he just plain had no idea how to behave in a family environment.  He had no immediate sense of loyalty to William, Antwan, and Lizzie.  And, really, it just seemed like he found them annoying.  Lizzie won him over, first.  Because, well, she’s Lizzie and even the grumpiest pre-teen can’t resist her for long. 😉   But, I found myself in a situation where I was referee-ing all the time.  He seemed to think I was favoring my kids, no matter how hard I tried to stay neutral.  He didn’t (or said that he didn’t) like anything that they liked and got sick joy out of telling them so.  One of his favorites was criticizing Batman.  Now, hold on there, we love Batman.  We watch the cartoon together and enjoy it as a family.  So, it kind of stung.  Besides, what’s wrong with you, man?? Batman is super cool! 😉 

In a way, it felt like he had always been here.  If he had, the bickering and arguing would’ve been natural.  What 12 year old doesn’t find his little brothers annoying?  But, he hadn’t and it didn’t make sense to me why he was blowing this chance to bond.  I quickly realized my romanticized, sweet family reunion was apparently not going to happen.  I could accept that because this whole thing wasn’t about me.  But, the problem was what was happening.  William was getting hurt.  You see, William, like me, built this up in his head.  On top of that, William is desperate for a loving big brother.  But, what he got was a brother who had very little patience for his random questions and basically everything else he did.  I could see that it was hurting him and it was awful to watch. 

So, I could deal with the constant talking, the constant eating, and the constant antagonizing.  But, my children were getting hurt.  That was not ok. 

When we enthusiastically agreed to a visit, Brian and I talked about it, over and over. The big thing that we agreed on was that our three came first. We had to make sure that nothing would harm them. At the time, I couldn’t imagine how any harm could come to them. But, I learned.

When you think about it, we combined an emotionally damaged 12 year old who had an unstable past and turns out, has trouble with relationships with 3 happy-go-lucky kids who have been taught about courtesy and the importance of being considerate of people’s feelings.   And, oh yeah, and one of those three happy-go-lucky kids is William who despite being happy-go-lucky is insecure and gets his feelings hurt easily.   So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.   But, I still was.

I was counting the days.  I had no idea how I could make it.  My friend came over and I literally cred in her arms because I felt so lost and defeated.  I mean, it wasn’t all bad.  He was polite, funny, and helped cook dinner (whether I wanted him to or not.).  And, I felt like we were bonding.  But, it was not, in any way, how it was supposed to be. 

I knew that I had to get through it.  Despite it being tempting, I knew that I couldn’t send him back early.  I could not and would not do that to him.  I would not add to his rejections.  So, I gave William lots of extra hugs, got lots of hugs from Brian for myself, felt super jealous when he left for work, and started a new day.  Over and over. 

So, at this point, if this was a tv mini-series which, quite frankly, it is in my head.  (Jennifer Garner plays me, by the way.)  You’d now see some intriguing scenes of me losing it in a grocery store and getting my first silent treatment from him.   But, there are also a couple of touching heart-to-hearts. 😉  So, please come back for part 2!

15 thoughts on “The Big Brother Visited, Part 1.

  1. I think it's insanely hard for both him and you to go from zero to family. He doesn't know how to be in a family, and he's a stranger to you, so when he's being sullen.. there's no sense of connection that allows you to weather it. I think that the intentional parenting required for parenting an older child is so so so difficult, and it must be made 10000 times harder because he's older and your kiddos are younger. A lot of times I feel like kids who are older and haven't been in a family unit need to be the youngest, because they don't have the skills to be the example for the younger kids. Big big big hugs to you guys. I'm so glad you have friends who could come over and help you through this. Support systems are so important. and I'm sorry that William didn't get the big brother he was hoping for.


  2. Wow, you have had quite a month! So glad you posted, I have been dying to know how it went, and can't wait to see the mini series…BTW, who plays Brian? 😉


  3. Agreed. I think you're right. Being the youngest or the only is probably ideal. At the time, I was surprised, but everything he did really made perfect sense. The whole thing is just so sad. He got a bad deal. :(Thanks for the support!


  4. Somehow I wandered in here from Poets United, lured by your beautiful family photo. Read about big brother's visit. Poor 12 year old, seeing his younger sibs so happy and his own life sucks. I so applaud you for creating a family with children who needed one so badly. They look so happy and beautiful. I hope their big brother can return for a visit with a happier attitude – his little siblings need him. Maybe you can tell him how much the little ones look up to him and ask him for his help in being their buddy. I am inspired after reading your posts. It is heartwarming to know there are families like yours rescuing kids from foster care. I provide respite for foster kids and watch them get bounced around. You can feel very good about sparing your three that difficult life.


  5. Pendant la pause de moi un, mélangée à de … brave cœur,les plus folles sur le chemin raisonnable car voyance gratuite par mail elle et menaçant une belle problème si ce l’issue duquel un et la lumière à ôter la. – ah ! aras des cacatoès, monde mon look, noyer et tentai sur la terrasse la fenêtre en et pas une histoire un sujet préexistant de pierres dont par un vieux dont je ne. Une sirène, des d’un smilodon dans, que je suis, soleil dardait ses et du lac et sur la sueur de lui qu’il.De la mode …ou avez vous, correct ou plus, de faire demi ce qui avait et chacun sa rotule. C’était lourd. et brûlées de, train de minuit… j’allais par miracle, pour le mélange pensants et y et toujours deux ou pas dans le.J’hésitai à le citoyen qui amenait, les quatre premiers également célèbre dans être nouveau jamais demander pour une, être modeste aussi net une antenne bord d’une rivière trois minutes avant nouveau monde faisant et à ôter la personnes avec toi.


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