I had always said that if we ended up having two children, a boy and a girl, that I hoped the boy would be the oldest. I wanted him to be the protective older brother. As life turned out, we do have two children and we do have a boy and a girl…but Grace came first. How thankful I am that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. How thankful I am that Grace is Ezra’s big sister!
Being the big sister of a brother with Autism is quite a special job. Being the big sister of a brother with Autism means many family trips to doctors’ offices and waiting rooms, listening to the same songs over and over again, joining in on therapy sessions, sleeplessness when brother has had a rough night, and having your princess dolls beheaded and catapulted across the room. Being the big sister of a brother with Autism takes a lot of patience, unconditional love, selflessness, compassion, sacrifice, and understanding. That’s a lot to take in for a five year old little girl!
There are definitely times that Grace struggles. Often times she will have to give up something that she is doing because Ezra is having a rough day. Our family is not able to go and do some things that the average family is able to go and do. Our family does not necessarily look like an ordinary family. But with all of the sacrifices and struggles involved, Grace handles them with such compassion and thoughtfulness. I believe the Lord is using Ezra to develop a maturity in her that can only come from having a sibling with special needs.
Sometimes I wish we could all be as accepting and caring as children. Grace very lovingly refers to Ezra as “My Ezra Brother” and likes very much to introduce him to everyone she meets. Although Grace does not necessarily understand the word Autism yet or know all of the “Spectrum” lingo, she does understand that her brother is a little different from other kids. It almost seems that because of this difference, she has made it her own special mission to introduce him to the world as her very special “Ezra Brother”. Grace will remind others “Say hello to my Ezra Brother” and “Don’t forget to say goodbye to Ezra!” She is always looking for ways to include him as much as possible.
Grace daily impresses me in the way that she interacts and responds to her baby brother. I believe there is no greater therapy for Ezra than to have his sweet sister “get into” his world. Grace pushes him to interact, she initiates play with him, she knows how to help calm him down, and she knows how to cheer him up. We do a lot of Sign Language in our home and Grace has become our “Sign Language Police”- she knows just about every sign and corrects us frequently! Sometimes I have to remind Grace that she gets the great honor of being the big sister but she does not have to be the Mommy and Therapist as well- she is always so eager to work with Ezra. I believe Ezra knows without a doubt how much his big sister loves and adores him.
Not too very long ago I spent a good hour sitting on the floor outside of the kids closed bedroom door, just listening. We had put the kids to bed and it sounded like Ezra was probably going to have a rough night. He began to cry and hit the bedroom walls. All of a sudden I began to hear Grace’s sweet voice singing at the top of her lungs. She was belting out as many of Ezra’s favorite songs that she could remember, one right after the other. I sat outside their closed bedroom door and just listened as Ezra grew calmer and calmer. That night Grace sang her baby brother to sleep and I just sat with tears streaming down my cheeks on the other side of the door. Thank you Lord for moments like these!
I am so thankful that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. I am so thankful for the very special way that the Lord designed our little family. I am so thankful that Grace is Ezra’s big sister. I am so very thankful for the sweet relationship that Grace and Ezra have with one another.
Although it is hard at times, I am thankful for the opportunity that Grace has to learn to Love in a Different Language- I believe it is all part of God’s great plan and is helping to shape her into the very special person He has created her to be.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 56:8-9