There are few more precious moments than when a brother says openly and unreservedly how much he loves his sister. These statements don’t come easily so I’d better write this one down!
We have been on holiday this week and it has been a great opportunity for Patrick and Trudy to play together and discover each other again, along with their baby sister.
Playing with Trudy can be frustrating because she is hugely repetitive. She gets hold of an idea then clings to it like a limpet until it’s fully assimilated in her brain. This is much like most children but with Trudy, this process is longer. Trudy will repeat the same role-play with anything; cars, dolls, fruit, pebbles, you name it.
It goes something like this: “Hi, what’s your name?” “Car [or pebble depending on the object” “Play?” “Okay” “Park?”
It is pretty brief but, looking at this on paper, it seems to cover all the basic elements of a friendly interaction: greeting, question, invitation to play.
We all went slightly mad with Trudy’s monologue at the river which required some response from us. That went something like this: “Daddy, look!” “What’s that, Trudy?” “A potato. No, daddy, not a potato. A rock!” She must have said that at least 20 times when we were throwing stones in the river, or was she throwing potatoes? Who knows! It was funny the first time but the humour wore off as we had already heard the punch line!
For Patrick, he’s got to be patient, he’s got to be understanding, he’s got to care about the safety and well-being of his little sister ALL the time because we rarely take our eyes off her.
But there are those wonderful moments when Trudy transfers her play to the real world and asks every passer-by “what’s your name?”, and she will invariably get the reply “what’s yours?”.
We have met Steve and Rob who were walking to Ribbleshead, Mowgli the dog, whose owners have a narrow boat in Skipton, Glynn who was going up Buckden Pike the wrong way. I could go on.
Trudy inspires friendships and pushes interactions you might never have without her and there is a silent recognition from us all that we owe these to her.
So in one brief moment, Patrick, with his ability to get straight to the heart of the matter, stated quite plainly and unprompted that he likes his sister’s Down’s Syndrome, that Trudy wouldn’t be Trudy without it.
Her ‘condition’ was not something he wanted to take away, he wasn’t wishing for something else unattainable. He was grateful for it. I’d like to say that he was grateful for the confidence it brought her, for her eminent likeability because we were all benefitting from it.
So let me savour this moment, describe it, document it, relish it, because some days are tough and these precious moments of gratitude are hard won but worth every battle.