One of the things that I feel is really important as both a godmother and a nanny is ensuring that no one feels left out.
Since Mr 5 got his official diagnosis of Autism there have been a barrage of unavoidable appointments that have had to take precedence over a large chunk of many lives. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I realised how much of Miss 3’s life it had impacted on.
Miss 3 has increasingly been telling us in small ways that she is feeling “left out.” There have been a definite increase in the need for snuggles and huggies, a lot more clinginess and the asking to go everywhere with someone. She has had enough of being home, and her mum and I are exhausted from dealing with her brother so enjoy some time when there is a less frantic pace.
With a Mr 5 Months who is demanding and needs to be fed right effing now goddamit, Mr 5 with Autism, along with the family issues that every one has, Miss 3 – while not forgotten – did fall victim to the days where her mum and I just need to take a breath and slow down for a day.
So: how do you handle this? You can’t sacrifice the feeding of a teething poop machine, you can’t stop the time and efforts being put into a child with no off switch, mum and dad still need time to breathe and Aunty K just wants five minutes to pee alone. My answer was found in small time chunks. Twenty minutes there to do some stickers on some paper; 30 minutes here to paint some pegs to make magnets; ten minutes right now to just sit and cuddle while we watch a movie for the hundredth thousandth time.
I’m trying to master the art of providing her with activities which are hers – crafts for while her brothers are absent, or ones where she can play parallel with Mr 5 so that it is still her own thing. I have called on every idea my brain can think of, along with picking the child carer boyfriends. But I find myself at a loss sometimes – it is hard to create a diverse and intellectually stimulating activity plan for a three-going-thirteen-year-old. She sees her baby brother getting cuddles all the time, her older brother getting “alone time” with mum when he goes to appointments (as well as he gets to go to “big school” too).
Middle child syndrome is hard enough to combat – slipping through cracks that no one is aware even exist, feeling left out because you’re too young to play with your older siblings but too old to play with your younger siblings, just wanting some time with mum and dad all by yourself. Throw some Autism in on the mix and you get a perfect example of how Autism doesn’t just affect the child who is diagnosed with it. It becomes a family with Autism in it.