On Being The Other One is the title of a book I read shortly after the twins were born. It was a collection of thoughts from a group of people who had grown up with a sibling with a disability. Most of them were bitter about the experience. They thought they had not been given enough attention, that family life revolved around the disabled brother or sister, and well, that just life in general had been worse for them because of that circumstance.
I don't think it's realistic to think that a person's experience with a sibling would be all bad or all good no matter what, disability or not. Human relationships are just work sometimes, even if everyone has the right number of chromosomes, can walk without the use of a wheelchair, and is perfectly healthy physically and mentally. I think everyone can expect some hiccups in their sibling relationships. Disability is a big hiccup, I know. I know it's not all rainbows and butterflies, but I don't think it has to be the end of the world, either.
Here's something Simon has been struggling with: when our family ventures out into the public arena from time to time, Jude often gets treated like a rock star. Strangers approach us to say hi to him and tell us how cute and precious he is. People drop everything and cross entire rooms to get to him, scoop him up, hug and kiss him, tickle him, and generally adore him beyond all reason. Jude eggs this on by running up to people who haven't first noticed him and attaching himself like a barnacle onto their legs. People find this endearing, for the most part, and reciprocate the affection. He's a hugger, no question.
Simon, on the other hand, did not get the hugging gene. He may extend his hand for a shake, or even his fist for a bump, but he will not attach himself to you and certainly not kiss you unless you share his DNA.
It didn't occur to me how Simon might process all of this attention on Jude everywhere we go. Because Simon doesn't assert himself the way Jude does, he often fades into the background in these situations.
Recently, he told me that it makes him uncomfortable. He doesn't know how to act. He doesn't want to join in the hug-fest, but he doesn't want to be ignored, either. I suggested that he high-five or something so that he can greet people, too, without all the close contact.
Last weekend we were at an event at Jake and Chloe's high school. Jude was getting his usual rock star reception from one of Chloe's friend's dad while Simon was invisible. He pushed his way into the center and said loudly, "Hey! WHAT ABOUT MEEEEE!!?" The dad looked surprised (as was I) and said "Oh, hey, little dude, how are you?" Simon then put out his fist for a bump and smiled.
It was good, I think, that he figured out at the ripe old age of 6 that he does have some control over situations that he doesn't like and wants to change. I can control how I treat the two of them so that one doesn't feel like the invisible, less important, less loved twin, but I can't always control how others treat them, so it's good that Simon has decided to speak up and make himself known.