This wasn’t the life that I had planned for you when we brought your little brother into the world nine years ago.
To be honest, I was worried about bringing in another kid. You see, I didn’t think we could do as well as we had the first time around. I remember watching you play on a MickeyD’s playground that we stopped at on the way back from Georgia one evening long ago. You were easily the youngest kid on the playground by about a year, surrounded by much older kids who wanted to play a game that you didn’t really want to play. As the most extraverted person I’ve ever met, you couldn’t wait to play, but you wanted them to play *your* game.
And this little two-year old, tiny girl persuaded the five older kids to play *her* game.
I turned to your momma and said, “You know, if I were God and I had designed a little girl from scratch, I couldn’t imagine making one better than her.”
I was then, and remain today, in awe of you.
And I couldn’t imagine that lightening would strike twice.
But then it did. And until your brother was about 18 months old, and you were a precocious three, I couldn’t believe how awesome life was.
That was until your brother had his 18 month old checkup and our doctor suggested that we needed have him tested for autism.
I didn’t plan for that.
I didn’t plan on all the times you had to stop listening to a song, playing a game, watching a video, or talking to your friends because your little brother couldn’t deal with the sounds.
I didn’t plan on having to leave your recitals and performances early because your little brother had stayed as long as he could.
I didn’t plan on how it must hurt you to watch your little brother struggle with things that just came completely naturally to you.
I didn’t plan on having to answer your question when you were five, “When is Matthew going to talk to me?”
I didn’t plan on all the adjustments, sacrifices, and changes you were and are going to have to make. I didn’t plan on you having to grow up so quickly.
But grow up you have, and in doing so, you’ve helped me to do so, too.
You’ve helped me to realize that, as the Disney Channel constantly teaches, sometimes adults really are the dumbest people on the planet.
You see, it didn’t dawn on me that you were still the little girl who, after your brother’s first 10 minutes at home, had brought him your teletubbies so he would have something to play with.
You’re still the girl who sings along with your brother to whatever Wiggles chorus he has running through his brain at the moment.
You’re still the girl who will incessantly quote lines from *Finding Nemo* with your little brother because you know that *that’s* how he communicates his excitement, his joy, his love.
You’re still the same girl who, thinking the Tooth Fairy had forgotten to honor your brother’s first lost tooth, broke open her own piggy bank and shoved her money under his pillow so he wouldn’t be disappointed.
You’re still the same girl who plays duck duck goose, gives high fives, gives tickles, cuddles, and big hugs whenever they are necessary.
You see, you’ve taught me that my plans and expectations were the stupid longings of an “adult” who thinks that he can control anything at all.
You’ve taught me, given me, the greatest lesson of all. None of those plans, hopes, goals, and expectations mean *anything* at all.
All that matters is that we have one another, and that we love one another with all that we are. He is, after all, your brother, and that’s all that matters. Thank you for teaching me how awesome life still is.
In humility, gratitude, and love,
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Dad, hubby and irritator of students and school boards alike, Russell Winn is committed to ensuring that the Huntsville City Schools provide access to the educational support system for every student. When he's not enforcing grammar rules or arguing the ethical minutia of Kant's deontology, he spends his time loving his kids, reading anything by Stephen King or Christopher Moore, and attempting to speak truth to power on behalf of special needs kids. You may follow his rants at www.geekpalaver.com or on twitter at @russwinn.