What is it like to have Oscar as a brother? I should know. I’m Abe, Oscar’s older brother (Read about me on the right side of this page).
Oscar is much more “normal” than you might think. He has relatively strong social skills, and he is articulate and coordinated enough that on first glance, he could easily be just another teenager out with his family. I think that’s how most people see him—people who don’t know him anyway.
To close family friends he is much more—a funny, talkative, brother of Ruby or me, or son of our parents, who is a huge A’s fan and loves animals. Oh and he has Prader-Willi syndrome too. But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
To me Oscar is a funny, hardworking, earnest, and stubborn brother. Our relationship is similar to that of other siblings who aren’t disabled (I think). We talk (and argue) about baseball; we plot against our parents, our sister; we play board games together. Doing these things with Oscar can be very rewarding. Yet in these situations he requires some extra scaffolding from me, as my mother would say.
In order to keep him in a good mood, I have to be careful that I don’t question his opinion, start winning by too much, or set him off in any other way. I try to walk the line of stretching him as far as he can go, or close to snapping, because I think it helps him grow as a person. Later in life, I want him to be able to win arguments, to be gracious in defeat, to do things that other people can do with less difficulty than he can.
I set my hopes high, but his goals are even higher. I want to give him a chance to reach them.
That’s my mindset on a good day.
There are also days when I don’t have such an optimistic view. Days when Oscar is anxious, upset, worried; when he throws tantrums over minor details. Days when I can’t make him laugh. These are the days in which I wish he didn’t have a disability, I question why it had to be me, I wonder about life with a “normal” brother.
We always hope there will be fewer of those days in the future.