The Oh Shit Moment
(Not Yet) Born This Way

From the Rooftops

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The thing, with Noah, is that his victories, however small, are so hard-fought for. And harder won. Little things like preschool, karate class, swim lessons, riding a bike, talking to another child or simply using an idiom or bit of slang correctly are huge for him, and for us to witness. He is playing a constant game of catch up. 

And we are his cheerleaders, celebrating every baby step and breakthrough, screaming from the rooftops. 

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And then there's Ezra. 

Things come easily for Ezra. What once was a sigh of guilty relief over his "typicalness" is now a gasp of wonder at all the things he can do already, at his seeming bottomless well of innate talents and abilities. 

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He doesn't just talk. HE TALKS. Full sentences. Every word he hears he immediately absorbs and starts to use. He talks about things he sees and thinks and did earlier that day and would like to do tomorrow Nouns, verbs, abstract concepts and feelings and scenarios playfully pulled from his imagination. He asks questions, he wants to know what and why and when and how come, and he ponders your answers with a seriousness in his eyes that looks so out of place right above his chubby baby cheeks. I might not catch every word of it -- his two-year-old tongue is not always up to his much-older-than-that vocabulary -- but I understand more than enough. We have conversations.  

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He is social and affectionate. Strong-willed and determined. He will not let fear or failure stand in his way of trying new things. "Too young, too small, too little" mean nothing to him in his furious quest to master all big-kid things. The self-critical, perfectionist streak I admittedly passed on to his older brother seems to have skipped over Ezra completely, replaced with boundless optimism and a refusal to quit trying until he gets something right. 

Not that he even needs to try that hard, that often. He can pedal a bike, kick a ball, hold a crayon, use a spoon, run and jump and climb and balance. He can count to 12 and name all his shapes and remember EVERYTHING after a single viewing, hearing or doing. He's funny and he knows it, irresistably naughty and mischeiveous and he knows a hug and a kiss will melt any and all of my defences. "Thank you you're welcome," he says, after offering me some pretend pasta from his pretend picnic spread.

He is the biggest little person I've ever met in such a compact, cuddly package. 

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He followed Noah to karate and watched from the sidelines, once, then rushed in to demostrate a perfectly mimicked forward kick at the target. The teacher's eyes grew wide. "Wow. He's a natural," he said, genuinely impressed.

"Hi-YAH!" Ezra said. Then he put his arms down and bowed. HE BOWED. HOW DID HE KNOW TO BOW?

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I worry. I worry that it will be hard for Noah to see his little brother naturally excel at the things he struggles with. And God, aren't enough things hard enough for him, already? Ezra, of course, idolizes Noah. Worships the ground he builds Lego castles on. They bicker and argue, but things only get really heated when Noah is doing something that Ezra can't, or simply can't yet. I worry that those roles are already getting reversed.  

So I say things like, "Noah is soooo talented musically, you know, he has perfect pitch and already makes up his own songs and if we can just get his fine motor skills up where they need to be I bet we can really set him loose on a piano and..."

Ezra sings loud and terribly off-key, you see. And then I worry even more, because I know what I'm doing, right there, and it's awful and not fair, that my pride in my second child gets colored by concerns for my first. 

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Oh Ezra, you are so uniquely, breathtakingly amazing. I hope I tell you that enough. You blow my heart up every day with pride and laughter and I love you so, so crazy much.

I'm your cheerleader too, and you're never going to get rid of me embarassing you from the sidelines of whatever thing you choose to do, because I already know you'll be the greatest and most brilliant boy to ever attempt whatever that thing you choose to do is

Comments

TwoBusy

I love this. Not only because it resonates in deep and obvious ways to the situation in my own home... but also because your final paragraph is something that I need to memorize and learn to say to my own son, over and over and over again.

Starrynite

They are both totally amazing. You are so lucky. So gorgeous my ovaries are doing somersaults!!

Leeann

Amy,

I cannot believe how big Ezra looks. For a second there, I thought I was looking at pictures of Noah from when he was younger. I still think of Ez as a baby but he is NOT.

Trying to preserve each child's self esteem can be hard, no matter the circumstance. I have three kids ages 15, 12 and 9 and I struggle with it frequently. Many times I feel torn in what to say or do and I'm still not certain I'm doing or saying the right things. I guess we just do what we know how to do and hope for the best possible outcome.

And love them like crazy.

Sprite's Keeper

My sister had the same difficulties as Noah. I was more of an Ezra, finding things easy that my older sister couldn't quite seem to tackle. (We called it a roadblock. You can see the other side, you know the answer is there and what it is. You just can't get to it.) We were compared constantly by family, teachers, school systems, the only exception was our parents. They were proud of both of us in our separate accomplishments and it showed. It's a fact of life and one that impacted us throughout the years we lived in the same house. You're doing right by praising Noah on what he can do and what he has done, but the praise for Ezra should come just as readily. Noah needs to hear it too so he can be as proud of his brother as you are.

gorillabuns

I could have written but about two little girls. I totally get it.

Chelsie

They're both just so damn cute. That is all.

Maggie

very sweet!

Maggie

very sweet!

Caroline in Hawai`i

Oh, Amy. Your honesty takes my breath away. You'll get it right. Your boys are, and will be, nothing short of wonderful. You and Jason are kick-ass parents and you are raising excellent sons.

And yes, this is indeed the voice of experience, murmuring small words of comfort and reassurance. I raised five kids, and I wish I'd done it with *half* as much purpose and vision as you and Jason seem to have.

A million hugs from a mom who thinks you're awesome.

Jen

This is exactly what goes on in my house. I watch my 10 year old struggle with everything and he sees his "baby" 5 year old sister succeed at everything she tries, even things he struggles with. I am in awe of her ability to simply do everything she tries to do. Then I worry that maybe I am giving her successes to much attention and that it might make my son feel bad. Then I worry I'm giving HIS successes to much attention and that they're both wondering why I'm cheering over him holding his pencil the right way while she's over in the corner executing a perfect cartwheel and getting no attention at all. Oh well. I figure they'll both end up neurotic someday over something or other I'm doing wrong. It might as well be this.

Life of a Doctor's Wife

You have two fantastic boys there. And they have a truly amazing, loving mother.

Jamie

I wonder if Ezra's excellence at things will actually drive Noah to excel at them more quickly, too? A healthy sibling rivalry, in that Noah sees that things don't have to be difficult-scary-painful-hard-etc. like his brain is telling him. Will this make him ignore the impulses in his brain that make him think things are more difficult? I've got no answers, but wonder if this won't actually help Noah rather than him see it as a hindrance and his brother "overtaking" him in some abilities.

Beth

Just your awareness and conscientiousness about this is already a huge gift to them both, that many kids don't get at all.

liz

I love this post.

Erin

I was the Ezra in my family, and my sister had some developmental & learning delays. When we were younger, I remember helping her (for HOURS) learn to ride her bike (something I mastered w/o training wheels at age 4, she didn't get 'til nearly age 10). But what I remember more is that all of her accomplishments were celebrated, and mine were just...the way things were. I know now that it's because I didn't need encouragement to do excel that I didn't receive the same level of attention (and honestly, still don't), but even now, at age 34 (tomorrow), it still smarts a bit. So bravo for recognizing it now, and taking steps to equalize! :)

Stephanie

What a sweet and loving post. And I can't believe how big Ezra looks! It's like all his baby fat is GONE.

sheilah

You are a good mom.

marie

oh- this is so close to my heart. don't ever let the ease with which Ez excels stop you from praising him. once the baby rolls around, he stands a chance of getting stuck in the middle. spoken like an overlooked, younger sister to a brother with aspergers, and the cutest little sister anyone had ever seen right?!! you are a good Mom Amy!

Karen

And soon there will be another boy! Ahhhh!
My newest addition is due any day now and I think about this often. Drew is like Noah and he HATES when other kids excel at things when he doesn't.
I agree that you seem to be handling it all SO well.
I can only hope the 5 years between my 2 will help to not highlight strengths and differences so much...

Amanda

I have often enjoyed reading blog entries written by parents about their kids, but that has become even more pronounced now that I am expecting my first child. Now I can't wait to see what talents she will have!

Amanda

I have often enjoyed reading blog entries written by parents about their kids, but that has become even more pronounced now that I am expecting my first child. Now I can't wait to see what talents she will have!

Heather

They are both full of awesome in different ways, but I imagine it's a dilemma for all parents, not just those with kids on the spectrum and neurotypical. That probably does throw a whole other complication in, I guess, but I am confident that your kids will grow up knowing that you love them all madly, uniquely, and completely.

Amelia Sprout

There will be conflicts between them, there were with my brother. I was jealous of the help he got, the forgiveness of his bad grades in spelling. I know he had a hard time with how easy some things came to me. We were always close though, even in conflict. We still are. He has a level of patience and calm leadership I will never have. I will still be able to spell better without a computer.

daysgoby

This resonates with me SO MUCH. Thank you, thank you for this post.

Donna P

Adorable. Love the gorgeous photos.

Noan looks so serious.

Where are the photos of Ez? Who is that little boy in the striped shirt?

Her Ladyship

Growing up, I also was kind of the Ezra in this situation. I never felt like my parents weren't in my corner 500% even when they were fighting for special ed rights for my brother (this was the 70s so things were...different). FWIW, your kids will know that you adore and respect both of their abilities, even though they are different. That is blindingly obvious and they will be so glad of that.

Her Ladyship

Growing up, I also was kind of the Ezra in this situation. I never felt like my parents weren't in my corner 500% even when they were fighting for special ed rights for my brother (this was the 70s so things were...different). FWIW, your kids will know that you adore and respect both of their abilities, even though they are different. That is blindingly obvious and they will be so glad of that.

Her Ladyship

Growing up, I also was kind of the Ezra in this situation. I never felt like my parents weren't in my corner 500% even when they were fighting for special ed rights for my brother (this was the 70s so things were...different). FWIW, your kids will know that you adore and respect both of their abilities, even though they are different. That is blindingly obvious and they will be so glad of that.

Her Ladyship

Growing up, I also was kind of the Ezra in this situation. I never felt like my parents weren't in my corner 500% even when they were fighting for special ed rights for my brother (this was the 70s so things were...different). FWIW, your kids will know that you adore and respect both of their abilities, even though they are different. That is blindingly obvious and they will be so glad of that.

Jane

I liked the suggestions in the book, "Siblings without Rivalry," to address how to praise and encourage each child without comparing/pigeonholing them. It is a good and easy read.

FreeRange Pamela

Really beautiful. And applies in our household in some ways, too, though each of mine have their challenges. Thanks for writing so thoughtfully. I forgive you for making me cry!

Madeline

The love and joy that you feel for your children is wonderfully evident in this post especially. I have an older dyslexic child, and a younger one who is not. She learned to read at 3 by sitting and listening to me teach (over and over) her older brother. She got perfect grades, while he struggled. She rode a bike first. learned to snowboard first, and was fearless where he was cautious. There have been times that her abilities in school really pissed him off. She still, however, worships him, and he appreciates her, and it's nice since they are both about to graduate college. Trust me, with love, it will all shake out alright!

PigPennies

There is never any doubt as a reader of your blog that you love both those boys with all of your heart. I can't wait to follow along as you add Number Three to the mix. Ezra is looking so much like Noah these days! How funny that two boys can be so similar and yet so different.

mrschaos

This post is near and dear to my heart. But I have to tell you (and I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an ass) but even two kids like Ezra would inspire the same parenting angst. My kids are SO different. And I worry for both of them that they’ll feel inferior at all because of the talents that the other has. I just always try to be their biggest cheerleader. No matter what.

This post was beautiful. Your boys are wonderful.

mrschaos

This post is near and dear to my heart. But I have to tell you (and I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an ass) but even two kids like Ezra would inspire the same parenting angst. My kids are SO different. And I worry for both of them that they’ll feel inferior at all because of the talents that the other has. I just always try to be their biggest cheerleader. No matter what.

This post was beautiful. Your boys are wonderful.

Barbi

Yeah, its funny. I had a similar experience to Erin. Except that I'm not sure my parents properly acknowledged the delays my little brother suffered. You didn't in those days. At any rate I often felt blamed for the fact that my little brother was always in my shadow. Like I kept him there by being bright, and my achievements weren't shouted about. In fact I remember being genuinely shocked when I aced my exams at aged 16 and realised I was actually one of the smart kids. I'm 35 now and it does still hurt a bit.

lisa

you are doing the right thing by trying to be equal. I was the Ezra while my sisters had their difficulties and even now when we are grown my successes are "as expected" where if they do anything it deserves a parade.

Treena

My gosh Ezra looks so much like Noah in that last photo - your boys are gorgeous can't wait to meet the next one.

We are on EXACTLY the same page as you and I could have written your post word for word almost. Our first has mild dyspraxia (severe which is now mild speech delay, delayed gross motor skills - he's just learnt to ride a bike without training wheels which is so big from where he came from, and severe fine motor skills delay, he still can't draw and still just scribbles over a page and takes forever to eat), he's always just that bit behind his peers, so much so that we held him back from starting school, he has just turned 5. All his little friends are now at 'big' school and he watches them from the bars of the day care centre and it breaks my heart. He is also extremely shy and apart from saying hi/bye or roaring at his friends he doesn't really know how to converse with them. Our second is AMAZING in terms of her development, much like how you described Ezra. At first we were so relieved that she is a 'normal', up to date with her milestones kid and just thought that her intelligence was more profound to us because of the delays we were used to with her brother but it is more than that. It's like she got the extra bit that he missed out on and they are off-balance. She's 2 and a half and we can have a conversation with her, she tries everything and doesn't let her little stature hold her back, she's funny and very social.

We try hard to celebrate every victory for each of them and never compare their milestone reaching in front of them and love them unconditionally and I think that's the best we can do.

kasey

i don't often comment but i do when something takes my breath away. this takes my breath away for two reasons. One-your boys are wonderful and beautiful and make me want to give my sweet boy (I think he's going to be an Ezra-they even have the same birthday, although a year apart) a little brother one day. Two-you are a really good mom. I work with children with special needs and I wish each and every one of them could have a mother like you. I wish every child on earth could have a mother like you. You're doing a great job!!! Never doubt it!

Nan

Don't knock yourself out. You have amazing children. They will find their own ways in life. That is at it should be.

Nan

Don't knock yourself out. You have amazing children. They will find their own ways in life. That is at it should be.

Jujyfruit

Oh, this one took my breath away...I love your honesty, and this particular topic hits close to home.

The sibling stuff: so crazy beautiful, so crazy hard.

PopMommy Pam

Beautiful photos and a beautiful post. I have a feeling they will always be each other's champion as well. And just wait until another brother joins the bunch. Awesome.

amy turn sharp

you are a lucky mama and they are also so lucky to have you- xo

Donna

I totally get that you are dealing with more than just simple personality differences here. But I still think you'd enjoy reading The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman, if you haven't done so already. :)

lis

In my family, I was the Ezra and my sister was the Noah... but I'm the older one. I admit I felt bad sometimes- like I was constantly outshining her. But now that we're adults, at some point a few years ago, she told me how she was really proud of having such an "outstanding" sibling. I'm proud of her too.

I'm sure the same will the case with your boys.

Julia

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

Julia

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

Jo

Your boys could not be luckier, what an amazing mom you are.

Christina Q

Dang it this was not supposed to be a teary post was it? It is just all too familiar; you could be talking about my own two boys. I hate discounting/ talking down my younger son's achievements because I am afraid they will damage my older's self-esteem. Bleh. I totally didn't think about it from this angle.

P.S. Who let Ez become a big boy? He seemed to go from a baby to a preschooler. I think he forgot the toddler part?

escalante blogger

Cute little kids. I like kids when look so happy.

bo-peep

just praise the PROCESS not the outcome. all people, not just noah and ezra, are a hell of a lot more than a list of successes and skills.

So, praise both of them for determination, patience, kindness, generosity, friendliness etc etc etc when you see it. If both have a go at a new skill, eg karate, and one is a super grandmaster instantly and the other is the worst in the hall praise both for the same thing: trying something new, listening to the teachers, thanking the teacher after the class....

Lawny

God what an incredible post. Seriously - one of your best. I go through so many of the same emotions with my nephew and my son. I never thought I'd have a kid and am incredibly close to my nephew who is autistic. When he was 10 I decided I needed to have my own child so I did....and he and Ezra are EXACTLY the same in every way you describe. And to me every amazing thing he does comes with a tinge of sadness that my nephew can't do the same. At eleven and two and a half they have many of the same interests but soon I know my son will surpass these interests and it makes me so sad. But like Noah, my nephew has incredible musical skills...so far, not my guy. Anyway - thanks for verbalizing how I feel so often...

Biscuit

that was just beautiful and sweet. so so sweet.

Lisa

Very well written. It is hard not to compare one child to the other especially when there are handicaps with one of them. I try to focus on what each of my kids excel at rather than compare their abilities. It's tough though. I get frustrated with one and struggle not to say, 'Well it's no problem with your brother.' We just have to love each of them and celebrate their individuality.

Nancy

Ditto a thousand times over all the nice stuff everyone else said. My only other comment is, "*That's* Ezra?" That kid done growed up!

Monica

De-lurking just to say how much I loved this post. Even if it did make me weepy. You celebrate your babies like my mom did with me, and it's a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Monica

De-lurking just to say how much I loved this post. Even if it did make me weepy. You celebrate your babies like my mom did with me, and it's a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Monica

De-lurking just to say how much I loved this post. Even if it did make me weepy. You celebrate your babies like my mom did with me, and it's a wonderful, wonderful thing.

mrs. q.

oh, your three little boys are so lucky to have you...

mrs. q.

oh, your three little boys are so lucky to have you...

THREE!!!!

OhMandy

I have a Noah and suspect his baby brother is going to be an Ezra. We are still in that overly-cautious super-analytical phase where we examine every single thing the baby does because we hope he's "normal" (what does that even mean?), but at the same time we're constantly pointing out how he is already far beyond where his brother was at this age. I feel like I need to read this post every single day!

Katie

Oh heavens this made me cry.

I have the most brilliant, amazing, fantastical little three year old that ever lived. He is... beyond my wildest imagination and expectations.
And then we have a 4 month old baby girl, who I am already worried about short-changing, in my head. I ~know~ how ridiculous that is, to already worry about comparing to her brother when for all I know she could be smarter, faster, cuter, better than him. But I do.

Thanks for this, I'll be saving it for later.

bo-peep

At 2 they don't understand failure or judgement or even danger so bravado comes naturally. You might find that Ezra becomes more Noah-like and Noah becomes more Ezra-like and the difference far less marked.

Alberta grandma

Your boys already have the advantage of parents that get the fact everyone has their special spot- my daughter has and is going through the very same issues, her oldest is off the scale in IQ but her little sister is the one with no issues and life is so much easier for -- just cheer for them both in whatever they do and they will be fine

Taima

I was/am the Ezra of my family (age 21). My older brother (23) has some emotional/social difficulties that make things like, reasonable social interaction and sitting in a class room really hard for him.
First, I HAVE to commend you for recognizing that this could potentially become a problem in the future. That's like, the biiiiggest thing right there.
My own mother didn't seem to realize that she had minimized my accomplishments (up to and including nearly letting my brother skip my high school graduation and nearly not going herself because it would make HIM feel bad HE never graduated) to make sure my brother never felt upset about what he hadn't done.
It really, really, REALLY felt bad. Even now, I go and celebrate the things I do with friends instead of my family because, well, who is gonna care around my house?
But you, Miss Amy, are an AMAZING mother. I wish my own Mom had the forethought, wisdom, and patience that you do.

Jenine

I feel like I could have written this. My son just turned 5 this week, my daughter is 2.5. I have the same worries and feelings about their relationship as she starts doing more and more, and everything is so tough for my son. He was recently diagnosed with aspergers, but it is thought that it is more along the lines of sensory processing or developmental coordination disorder. We've also got a baby girl, nearing 3 months. So many of your posts hit so close to home and I feel I could have written them myself.

Thank you!

Meaghan

Aww, that's a sweet post. And amazing pictures! You're a great mom, and things will be fine for your boys as long as they keep on knowing they are loved!

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