Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Abe and I finished Al Capone Does My Shirts last night. A great book with a great ending.  We had a good discussion afterwards too, the kind that had both me and Abe in tears. I spent a good while writing about it here last night, but it's just not appropriate for my blog without Abe's permission. I can say I learned about the depths of Abe's love for and commitment to Oscar....and about how moving onto middle school where no one knows Oscar isn't as straightforward as I would have thought.  He is thinking about his own boundaries and requirements for new friendships.  There was a certain comfort for Abe that came from sharing a small elementary school with Oscar, where everyone knew.  So, even though Oscar isn't at the same school anymore, he's there affecting the way Abe looks at his world.  Of course. I just didn't get it before.

And then today, on the way up the hill to her preschool Ruby started talking about Oscar too. Abe was about the same age when his questions about Oscar and disability really ramped up.  Ruby is annoyed, frustrated, and perhaps even grieving a little.  Having been down this road with Abe, who was angry and sad at age 5, I'm remembering that siblings are processing the disability at their age appropriate level and that, in a way, their grieving is more prolonged because they continue to grieve as their understanding matures. We adults can get the whole picture faster, but little kids grow into their understanding.  For now, Ruby is grieving the brother that doesn't "play farm" with her the way she would like, the brother who talks funny and chews with his lips open.  All I can do is listen, and maybe gently remind her that Oscar is trying, even when it seems like he isn't because everything is just so much harder for him.

Mostly, I want her to know she can feel anything, say anything to me.  Over the years, with a lot of hard work, Abe and I have developed great communication and trust...but Roo is a different kid.  This morning I definitely had that feeling of "here we go again..." but that's not really true. I don't know what Ruby's path to understanding Oscar and PWS will look like.  All I can do is support her along the way.

And of course, I'm looking forward to getting to read Al Capone Does My Shirts with her in six years or so.


  1. I'm just amazed at how much you are able to do with three kids and your own passions. It's wonderful that you are true to feeding your own spirit, as you mother your dear ones.
    The "Al Capone..." book sounds fascinating. You are giving your son so many gifts by reading with him, discussing the book and its issues, and allowing him to say ANYthing to you. What unconditional love and safety! What precious gifts with which to surround your grwoing children. It will bless all three of them. Thank you for sharing all of this.

  2. I totally relate to this post, Mary. I have found that my two boys are very different in regard to their sister -- one has always been almost completely accepting and loving, the other more angry and even avoidant. I think it's wonderful that you realize Ruby might be different than Abe in how she relates to Oscar and his disability and I admire you for realizing this so much sooner than I did! I had counted on Oliver being much like Henry and was really taken by surprise when he wasn't. This was a beautiful, necessary post. Siblings are so often overlooked...

  3. Thanks to you both! Some days I feel like I know what I am doing with regard to handling all these feelings and emotions, and others not so much. But muddling through is ok...I figure my kids learn from my blatant imperfections too.