When Sean was just a few months old. Rick and I would talk occasionally about wondering when the right time or how we would explain to Sean about Steven’s sight. Like everything else up to this point we assumed we’d have to figure it out as we went along.
Fast forward to the boys being around 2 and 4 years old. Meal time at our house could be very interesting. I am sure most families could say that when their kids were young, but our family defiantly had a little different twist to it.
When the boys were younger we had a little table in the kitchen that they like to eat at. We would sit at the regular kitchen table and they would sit at their little table. We would look over and see Sean staring intently at Steven as he was sneaking his green beans onto Steven’s plate. It was all we could do not to laugh. We would try to keep a straight face and shake our head no to Sean. Poor Steven would keep stabbing at his green beans and eventually start asking if he had to eat all of them. To keep peace, we would let Steven not eat all the extra green beans and give Sean another scoop. Sean would look at us with this sheepish grin. This would go both ways. If Sean liked what they were having he would then sneak food off of Steven’s plate. Things like French fries, chips or cookies. Steven would be feeling all over the place for a cookie he thought maybe fell off his plate. We would look over at Sean, who wasn’t saying a word, but was chomping away. As Rick and I continued to witness this, we realized Sean had figured out on his own his brother didn’t see like he did.
One time after Sean had just been mischievous, I look at him and said “you are ornery”. In a very timid voice he softly said back, “I not ornery, I Sean”. Gotta love how quickly kids can change the mood, I said, with a huge grin “you are right, you are Sean”. As much as Sean was at times that ornery little brother, he was also amazingly sweet and helpful. Steven would be playing with Legos. When he was ready to clean up he would start feeling around. Without anyone saying anything to Sean he would jump in and help Steven clean up. Steven would come in and tell us he couldn’t find his shoes. Sean without saying a word would run go get Steven’s shoes, drop them off at Steven’s feet and run on. At times, even at these young ages we had to actually stop Sean from being so helpful. We wanted Steven to learn how to clean things up and find things on his own.
We as parents don’t want to see our kids struggle, so it’s so tempting to jump in and help at the first signs of trouble. When Steven was around 5 years old there was a new little girl about the same age at church that was playing with him. I kept watching them and she ever so often would stop and stare at him. I was on guard, ready to jump in if she said or did anything to Steven, with her not knowing about his blindness. Suddenly in the middle of their play she stopped and said “what’s wrong with your eyes?” I heard the question, my heart sank and I started to stand up and walk over to them, so I could give an explanation. Steven stopped looked her direction and said “they are broken”. She said “oh, ok” and they immediately went back to playing. I sat back down, I was tearing up and laughing at myself. We had never said to Steven or anyone that his eyes were broken, but that was his terminology… and it worked! And… I didn’t get an opportunity to mess it up by stepping in!
I am sure none of you have ever jump in and saved your child from a situation they could have probably handled just as well or better… but maybe you have seen another parent do this?