When the two littlest cousins get together, which isn’t often enough to suit me, they still kind of ignore each other. Nicholas is 2 1/2 and developmentally and physically delayed because of his Down syndrome, and Joshua is nearly two (next month) and exceptionally bright, or at least we think he is, but we’re his grandparents and he lives with us, so we may be a wee bit biased, but I don’t really think so. It’s becoming more obvious, now that they have passed the infant stage, that Joshua is out-distancing his older cousin in large and fine motor skills and language development. He is speaking in sentences, and we don’t always understand every word he says, but he usually gets his point across without much effort on our part. Nicholas has yet to say more than mama, but he is making animal sounds when he sees the pictures. They work with him every day in his day care that specializes in Down’s children. He also goes to speech therapy and physical therapy on a weekly basis. He wears ankle braces, and because of hip problems, walks with a kind of stiff-legged gait. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Joshua was paying close attention to Nicholas when he walked. Before long, Joshie was splaying his legs like Nicholas and mimicking his stiff legs as he walked around. He only did it for a few minutes until, I suppose, he got bored with it and moved onto something new, but I’ve also noticed that he mimics some of Nicholas’ other actions from time to time. I’m wondering, is Joshie showing signs of empathy and gearing his actions so that Nicholas won’t feel out-of-place, or are we raising a future little bully? I haven’t seen signs of Joshie being unkind or mean to animals or other kids his age, although he hasn’t really been around many since he isn’t in day care or nursery school yet. But he does try to kick out if he’s angry or frustrated about something. I’m hoping that this is just normal two-year-old toddler behavior and not a sign of future problems, especially between him and Nicholas. Obviously, it’s up to the adults who love him to teach him compassion and restraint, because none of us subscribe to that saying “boys will be boys.” I believe that Nicholas, with his beautiful sunny smile that crinkles up his whole face, and his warm enveloping hugs, will overcome any need on Joshie’s part to push him around. I’m hoping that Joshie will grow into the kind of kind, caring, empathetic person that his older brothers and sister have become. I pray that David and I will live long enough to see them grown up and living happy lives. And I fervently hope that Joshie will always stand up for and defend his wonderful big cousin Nicholas. A grandparent couldn’t ask for anything more.
See you soon,