Sometimes, I wonder if I put too much on the shoulders of my little one. K is 5 years old. She is rambunctious. She is energetic. She is smart.
On many days, she is my saving grace.
L is 7, two years older than K. Yet, I find myself asking K for help with L, probably more often than I should. Tonight was a perfect example.
We went to eat dinner at Texas Roadhouse. They were not on a wait, so we were seated immediately. L, however, is used to waiting when we go there, so she sat on the little wooden bench, determined to wait until it was our turn. No prodding would make her budge. K and Shannon walked to the table while I went to sit with L and wait. Once she had determined an appropriate amount of time had passed, we got up and were kindly escorted by another hostess to our table.
Once we sat down, L grabbed her kid's menu, which was folded in an unnecessarily-difficult-to-open-even-as-an-adult fashion, and managed to rip it. Into many, many pieces. As I could see the impending doom setting into her eyes, the first sign of a meltdown, I quickly asked K if L could have her (un-ripped) kid's menu.
She politely obliged.
L was mostly satisfied with the "new" menu while K began opening up some peanuts and handing them to her sister to help bring her all the way back to us.
Why is it that I feel it's okay to ask my 5 year old to give up something of her own to prevent my 7 year old from meltdown central? I know that K can handle it, and she does a fantastic job of "understanding" the situation, but is it fair to her?
I know that we've talked with K about Fragile X and what it means for her sister, what it means for our family, and what it means for her. But, at times, I feel I'm asking her to bear too much of a burden for such a young child.
And then I feel guilty.
It's not that I allow L to get away with anything. I don't give in to her every whim. I don't make K give up everything all the time. I really don't. I try to be a fair parent. But when those moments happen, and we are in public, and I can just sense that things are not going well, my first knee-jerk reaction is to make a request of my younger daughter that will appease the older. And I feel I am stealing a piece of her every time I do it.
It should be noted that I acknowledge her big heart. I thank her for her assistance. I try to replace the object denied or the time given up as quickly as possible. But do these things really make up for asking so much of my baby girl? Does me asking this of her make her feel less important? Less deserving?
It is in these moments that I see two beautiful girls, both affected by Fragile X, but in completely different ways. And it is in these moments that I want to take Fragile X, ring its neck, rip it to shreds, and throw it into a black hole.
And it is in these moments that I realize that I am so lucky to have both of my beautiful daughters who teach me every day what true love is.
Updated to add a response one of Shannon's dear childhood friends posted. It gives me a sense of comfort. Thank you, Tara.