Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Furry Brother

Linus.  With a party hat.  Don't ask.
Linus, our two year-old standard poodle, came up to Aidan tonight, and put his head in Aidan's lap.  Usually I’d give Linus (and Aidan, truth be told) a hard time since Aidan was enjoying ice cream at the moment.

(Linus is a total table- and counter-surfer. He’s supposed to have his parti-poodle butt on the rug when we’re eating. But, like both my children, Linus likes to continually test the boundaries.  There’s a lesson in there for me somewhere.)

“What’s the best thing about having a dog?” I asked Aidan, just making conversation.

“Well, it’s like having a real brother,” he replied matter of factly.  “Well, I have a REAL brother already, but, like, a normal brother.”

“A normal brother that poops in the yard, you mean,” I countered, smiling.

“Yeah,” he chuckled, looking a little bashful.  “That poops in the yard.”

 In many ways, Aidan (my nine year-old typical kid) is like an only child.  But most times, it’s harder than being an only.  Certainly, in the past year at least, he’s been left in front of an electronic babysitter more than I would like because Jim and I were always busy either dealing with Conor’s behavior or trying to recover from dealing with Conor’s behavior.

There's so much he can't do because Jim and I can't donate the required time to the activity (i.e. I'm no soccer mom, I'm an autism mom), or I'm just too tired of asking our friends and family for favors.

Often, it seems like Conor and Aidan exist in alternate universes, sharing a home, a dog, two fish, and parents but rather than interacting with each other, they just orbit around each other.

I hate to say it, but I feel like we’re all moons orbiting around planet Conor.  His gravitational pull is just so strong.

“You know, Aidan,” I continued, “studies have shown that petting your dog or cat can help you feel calmer inside.  It can even bring your blood pressure down when it’s too high.”

“That must be why I felt so calm this summer,” Aidan said.  “I spent a lot of time petting Linus.”

“It may be why it was calmer,” I agreed.  “It could also have been that Conor was in the hospital all summer. It’s ok to admit that it was chaotic and hard when Conor was home before.  But hopefully he’s better now.  Happier.  Nicer.”

“No, I petted Linus a lot this summer,” he replied.

Ok Aidan.  If you insist.

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