We were in my hometown over the weekend for Farmer’s Day. We arrived Friday afternoon and made our way downtown to find my Dad. I knew just where he would be he’s there every Farmer’s Day weekend. My godparents were there and I loved seeing both of them. We got supper at a local booth, watched some singing, Graham wrangled two carnival games out of us and won a small stuffed shark. Then it was time to go back to my parent’s house. One of the carnival workers stopped us as we were walking back and said he wanted to give something to Grace. He proceeded to pull down from the booth a large pink unicorn with lots of sparkles. It was perfect for Grace, I wondered how he could just look at her and know! I asked if he was sure, not quite believing he would just give away such a large stuffed animal. We held it in front of Grace, she totally checked it out, and we thanked him. Graham volunteered to carry it back to my mom and dad’s house. This from a boy who 30 seconds earlier was complaining he was too tired to make the walk.
As we walked Kevin and Grace got further and further ahead of us. I considered asking a question all while knowing I would be wandering into potentially dangerous territory but Graham had been oohing and ahhing over the unicorn. He had made no comparison to the much smaller and very plain in comparison shark he’d had to work to win. I wondered why.
“Why do you think that man gave the unicorn to Grace?” I asked.
“Because she’s in a wheelchair.” He said simply.
“Is that the only reason? I asked prodding further.
“She can’t play the games Mom.” End of conversation.
He started talking about other things. But then a few minutes later said, “That was really nice of that man to give this unicorn to Grace.” He carried the unicorn happily all the way. He’d just taken it all in stride.
The next day he was not near as generous with his sister. I was doing something with her and he wanted me to be with him. Now that he’s learned to write he began to write me notes and pass them to me as I fed Grace. One read “Stop Now.” The other just read “No”. Not being able to leave her – because sometimes I just can’t leave her – and him needing or wanting attention from me that I can’t give makes me feel the heavy weight of mom guilt like few other things.
Later that day there was a point when I had to bow out of the fun because Grace needed some time out of her chair, air conditioning, and rest. Graham had a choice at this point. He could either come with me and Grace or he could stay downtown riding rides with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. I was not surprised in the least when he chose them. Although I knew he’d be fine part of me hated to leave him, hated to miss him experiencing Farmer’s Day and his cousins, and part of me felt guilty because he’s my responsibility. Watching Graham with his cousins, the banter, the love, even the arguing is sad in a way and fills me with a regret that he doesn’t have typical siblings but I also love to see him join in the fray and I’m so grateful for how my brother’s family embraces him.
There’s a part of me that hates that this is his reality. It’s not always people giving us pink unicorns. There aren’t always cousins to ease that we are choosing her over him. But it is our reality. We all make sacrifices. I can only hope that he knows how much he is loved and continue to embrace the pink unicorn moments. And for those times when he feels he’s being overlooked, I have to hope he can see that in a family you can’t always be first but by no means does that mean you are unloved.