My son got a new iPad for Christmas. It’s the latest in a long line of iPads. Much like Linus’s security blanket, it’s his constant pal. The only difference is that he doesn’t throw it up in the air and have it come down on his thumb-sucking head like a hat. That, however, might be because he’s not in a Peanuts cartoon.
On Christmas Day, Lucas had been plugged into his device from the get-go. I was thrilled that he liked it, but it was turning his experience into much like so many others. For the most part, he’s always on the hunt for a screen or peering out from behind one to appease us
Can you take away his iPad and make him play?
My daughter had been trying to cajole him into the ball pit or, in the least, to interact with her for a while. While iPad time usually gives us taps on the shoulder and excited claps from our little man, there is little else. It’s hard to pry him away from the warm glow of Sesame Street videos, especially when you can always justify a reason for him having it. Whether it’s too much school time or a special holiday, I can always figure out why he should get this one thing he loves. Despite all that, I could feel her frustration.
I can, but I feel bad. After all it’s Christmas. He loves it.
Her response was one that I hadn’t even thought about.
Yeah, it’s Christmas. He had it all day and he has the whole school break. He should do something different for a little while today.
Good point, right? So, I took it away and prepared myself for the meltdown…that didn’t happen.
Sure, there were some whines, but he was cool about it. He sat in the ball pit, played catch with the playballs, and giggled as we jostled him around. When we were done, he laid on the couch as A Christmas Story played on the TV and took a nap. It was a perfect part of our perfect Christmas. She called it.
You know why she called it? Because my daughter is only a few years older than Lucas. She sees him the same way I’d see my friend’s little brothers and sisters growing up. He isn’t a tiny baby that she flashes back to 2011 when looking at. He’s pretty much her contemporary, just three years younger than her. She sees him as a kid nearly her own age, so the “aw” factor doesn’t play a massive role.
Does she find him cute? Sure. Is it some overwhelming adorability that a father, thirty years his senior, sees? No way.
I know this because I will sometimes offer his sweet face as an excuse for random acts of badness he commits. If my little man steals food or wants more, I almost always try to be mindful of his diet. Then again, there are moments where his chubby cheeks earns him more grub than he should have.
Lucas is the Hamburgler, Cookie Monster, and Hungry Mungry all wrapped into one. When the time comes, he will search out sustenance and gorge on whatever leftovers he can find. Although he’s gotten better in recent years, it’s still a problem.
I have complained to my daughter about this when it happens.
Ugh. This kid worries me. I mean, he’s getting fat but he’s so adorable. At least he has that, right?
Without batting an eyelash, she stops that line of thinking in its tracks.
Forget adorable. He’ll be fat.
As a non-verbal boy, the words don’t register with him so we can speak freely. I will reply with a disapproving “oh no” and reiterate my side.
Yeah, but he has a sweet face.
No, he has a fat face.
And there we are.
Want to know something, though? An opinion like hers is needed because, like it or not, she sees him as most of the world sees him. In fact, the world sees him perhaps even harsher. As his sister, she loves him but she’s not enamored by his baby memories. Strangers don’t even have the loving part.
Her point of view keeps us grounded in a reality that will allow him to grow in all the right ways. She has his best interests at heart and will be direct in making him the best he can be. The hope is that one day, he will have the life skills to be a part of gatherings, events, and situations on his own. If he’s only surrounded by glad-handing adults with kid-gloves in his formidable years, he’ll never get through some of the tough moments that will help him reach it.
I need my kids and they need each other. Days like these are the ones that make it abundantly clear. Sometimes his sister knows best. Sometimes when you wear rose-colored glasses, you can’t see red flags. Her eyesight is 20/20 when it comes to her little brother and she will always have his back. He couldn’t have a better Christmas gift than that.
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