As I scroll back through my recent posts I realize Carlos hasn’t been mentioned much. He is the quintessential middle child – overlooked some simply by virtue of his birth order.
Once I realized this, I’ve been doing my best to give him some good one-on-one attention the last week or so. And I discovered something about him: not only is he cute and charming, but he is also a people-pleaser.
When his brother or sister want something, Carlos is the first to give it to them. And let’s face it: Jett and Letty DO NOT share this trait. Letty today broke apart a Duplo wall Jett had built, and Jett lost it. He was screaming and crying and basically acting like all was lost with the world. J and I tried to calm him down – including asking what he could do next time to keep Letty from his toys (his solution was to send her to Grandma’s house for a year). Anyway – while all this chaos was happening Carlos very quietly built another Duplo wall for Jett.
Tonight at bedtime I spent a few quiet minutes with Carlos. I asked him why he spent so much time taking care of people and he said he likes it because he’s good at it. I get that. Then I told him it’s important that he take care of himself; that he gets to be happy too. And he informed me that he can’t make himself happy if he is making everyone else happy.
Self-esteem lessons for a four-year old…which parenting book covers that? Is this a back-lash to Jett’s Asperger’s? Is it what happens when you have a sibling with really strong needs? Or is he simply a sweet empathetic child who is so different from his brother in that way that he seems extra thoughtful?
I don’t know – and meanwhile the boys have invented a new game. It’s called Pick-a-Lick. You get to choose where on your body your brother has to lick you. It’s not my favorite game, to say the least. The best may have been yesterday when Carlos made Jett lick his bee sting. And the bottom of his shoe.
Maybe he’s not so sweet after all.