Another Christmas has come and gone. It was the second holiday for my youngest daughter, Eliza.
She's catching up in size to her older sister, Violet who's now three. They are at ages that they'd be playing together with their Christmas toys if Eliza didn't have her brain injury.
Violet does play with Eliza, but mostly with her toys. She will sing her ABCs and other memorized songs. Eliza vocalizes her pleasure in the sounds of her older sister's voice.
Once in a while Eliza will reach out for Violet's hand, which is not always welcomed by Violet. These little scenarios usually play out on a daily basis at our house.
We used to have to encourage them but sometimes they happen spontaneously – that's how I imagine they are supposed to happen. I imagine a lot.
I wonder if Violet is receiving the necessary input and feedback from Eliza, at least enough to keep her interested in their relationship. But then I remember that most three-year-old children are pretty focused on their little world, right here, right now, but they also imagine a lot, too.
I still imagine their future and how their relationship will grow. I wonder if it will grow apart as Eliza doesn't physically change in the ways Violet will. I've done nothing to hide Eliza's abilities (or lack there of) from Violet.
I've been honest even when part of me wants to totally protect her from the future. I've also never hidden any of Gwen's inabilities, either. Gwen is their oldest sister who was born with a brain injury, unlike Eliza whose brain was injured after birth.
I constantly have to ask myself what I can I do to nurture Violet, to protect her, to foster her emotions when she realizes she is a child wedged between two sisters with cerebral palsy.
I'm raising my first child who is three, who is neuro-typical, and I couldn't be more scared about my abilities as parent than I am right now.
But I guess that's the key, isn't? The grail of all grails that will get me through this is: right now.
While holidays will come and go and my children will do what they will (or won't), all I can really do is be present. Just like Violet lives right now, I must do the same. It's really about all I've got.
What do you have? I'd love to hear your advice on siblings and raising 'high needs' children like mine!
Tim Gort is a writer, public speaker and advocate who shares his personal challenges and triumphs of being a father of three, two with cerebral palsy, at the family’s bog.