Sibling friction seems to be reaching an all-time high of late.
Beckett, 11, can be incredibly mean to Carson, 9. However, he maintains he’s allowed to treat him in a cruel fashion since he’s his big brother. Conversely, Carson can be equally heinous to his big brother at times.
Throughout all the bickering, arguing and physicality, I know these kids love each other, but man there are times when it borders on anything but that.
For Beckett, the concept seems to be nobody else aside from him can be mean to his little brother because of his disabilities. He is Carson’s biggest critic, while also one of his most dedicated advocates. His parents typically see the former around the house.
Here are some examples of late:
•There is no question Beckett’s home life with his special needs brother is unique. He knows this and understands it, but he also resents Carson for the challenges he brings.
Most of the time Beckett is tolerant and accepting of the differences. Other times he lacks the patience required to be with Carson. This is something that needs to change over time. My goal is for Beckett to be able to play with Carson and look after him if we are not around. It’s quite a responsibility, one Beckett is not ready for yet.
One night recently after school the boys wanted to go outside and play basketball. I needed to change out of my work clothes first. They were being impatient, so I let them go outside to play basketball.
I hadn’t even taken a shoe off before I heard the screaming. Carson had kicked Beckett’s ball down the street, and Beckett basically leveled him in the grass. By the time I got to them, Beckett was chasing the ball and Carson was crying.
After making them both apologize, we played a game of “Horse.” Whenever Beckett would miss, Carson would laugh in a loud, mocking fashion. It was getting a reaction from Beckett, so he kept doing it over and over. It was clearly bothering Beckett. It was wearing on my nerves, too. It didn’t matter if Beckett made the shot or not. Carson was still letting out this annoying and odd laugh. As his temper rose, Beckett was throwing the ball back to Carson harder and harder. Carson eventually took one to the head and kicked the ball down the street again. This time he really got a hold of it and it rolled about a football field’s length from us.
An epic standoff then occurred over who was going to get the ball. Beckett wanted to run it down, while I insisted Carson get it. The problem was he can’t walk that far down the street by himself without guidance since he’s prone to unexpected behaviors and vehicles were coming by. The result was both boys retrieved the ball together, battling the entire way to and from.
It was quite the scene. By the time they got back to me, both had tears in their eyes from the shots they were landing on each other.
Yes, that goal of them playing together one day remains a work in progress.
•On another day after school, the kids were anxious to play outside but had to finish their homework first. Beckett offered to help Carson with his math worksheet.
The bickering began almost immediately. Beckett wanted to do it his way, while Carson had his own plan to do the math problems. We have heard from Carson’s teachers he doesn’t execute his math problems as he’s taught, but he typically comes up with the right answer his own way. None of us can figure out how he comes up with the answers, but in his mind it makes sense and most of the time he’s right so it’s all good.
Frustrated by Carson’s unwillingness to do the problem as he does, Beckett told me he’s making it so much harder by breaking it into so many steps. I told him let him do the problems his way and check the answers. Beckett then reviewed his brother’s answers, saying, “They’re all right but I have no idea how or why he does it this way.”
Carson, who is non-verbal, quickly gathered his papers while humming and making sounds that may or may not have been mocking of his brother.
“I know you are taunting me Carson and I’m not having it,” said Beckett chasing him out the door. Then came more screaming.
•Getting Carson to bed at the same time each night is our goal. Routine is important with him. It gets difficult because he knows everyone else in the house is not going to bed.
One night everything was going smoothly getting him to bed. As I was closing Carson’s door, Beckett stuck his head in and said, “good night Carson, I’m glad I don’t have to go to bed so early.”
That set Carson off and crushed all my efforts to get him to bed for the last hour. I didn’t handle Beckett’s taunt well either. He was clearly antagonizing him and there was no reason for it.
After finally getting him to sleep, I later asked Beckett what gives. He said he wasn’t thinking and was mad about something Carson did earlier in the night. I then lectured him and threatened if it happened again he would be in charge of getting Carson to bed that night.
It was an empty threat and he saw right through it.