Saturday, July 18, 2015

What my brother has taught me

Tonight I celebrated my only sibling, my brother's birthday, he will be 41 in a few short days.  He is my older brother, and he has Down Syndrome.  My mom and dad tell me that about age 5 I realized he was unique and I began to take on the role of the big brother in many situations.  Growing up we were always together, playing sports, vacations, going to park, and arguing over car seats.  Pretty normal stuff for two brothers.  As a matter of fact nothing was different until we were around other people that were not our immediate family.  In all situations I learned so much from him and about me.

Perseverance/grit -  Such trendy words in academics, but my brother figured this out very early on.  He was not going to be held back as the perception that he could not achieve would lend you to believe.  He was stubborn enough to figure out most of what he needed and occasionally asked for help.  He mostly though, wanted to do everything himself.  I just watched him continuously struggle  until he got the level of success that was achievable for him.

Willingness to Fight - There were so many instances growing up where my brother and I would be in a situation on a playground or other area where people would make comments, looks, or in some cases physically harass my brother.  Many times it was older kids and not knowing any better I would get in fights with them.  They mad me so angry and I felt I had no other choice.  I usually lost, but at least I felt like we took away from the exchange a feeling of not backing down.

Patience - Because my brother was so stubborn and at times needed more time to complete tasks, he and I both had to be patient with each other.  I had to be patient as to not do everything for him, and he needed to be patient not to get frustrated and yell at me for telling him to hurry up.  Going through this cycle almost every day for more than a decade showed me that people need to have experiences for themselves to feel accomplishment and we need to give them the time to find successes.

Positive outlook on life - I don't ever think I saw my brother depressed.  He certainly got upset, threw a tantrum, and refused to comply (many times), but it was always short lived.  He showed me what it means to have short memory about the negative and look forward to better times ahead.  He taught me that the moment is the moment, and when possible the future looks better, try to get there as soon as possible.

Happy 41st Birthday Bro! You have taught me more than any other individual I have ever come in contact with.  I can not thank you enough, although I know you don't want or need that.  You just want to be my brother and I feel the same way.


  1. What a great way to celebrate your brother! Thanks for writing and sharing this blog post. I especially loved the lesson of letting people have experiences themselves and we just need to give them time to find successes. I know that holds very true to me! Also, what sound advice your brother taught you to have a short term memory when it comes to the negative! We all could learn from him on that one! At least, I sure can! I will definitely keep working on that one. Thanks for passing on your lessons learned.

    1. I just love the saying, "no worries" seems to flush things out in my head to move forward, no matter what is going on. Thanks for thoughts!

  2. I remember when you first told us about your brother. From that moment I knew I had an advocate for my students with special needs. I also knew that I could go to you to understand how to navigate the difficulties of raising my own autistic/awesome son. One of my favorite stories you told me was how determined you were to make sure that you taught your brother how to ride a 2-wheel bike and that I should just go for it and push my own kiddo into situations that can help him feel accomplished. It is a slow process and difficult not to take over, but I love to witness the growth. Thank you for sharing your story again and Happy Birthday to your brother!

    1. Risk taking at about 8 years old, gets me in trouble sometimes! But thanks!

  3. Your blog was spoken from the heart. Great testament to your brother.
    You discuss how Kevin has made your life richer, but keep in mind
    Kevin is partly who he is because he had you as a role model to be
    with, adapt to and follow. When you mention going to a park it
    reminds me of an instance when Kevin was sitting on top of a sliding
    board and would not slide down the slide. A kid behind Kevin kept
    yelling at him to slide down the slide. Kevin would not budge. The kid
    got increasingly more frustrated and picked up a small stick and begin
    to hit Kevin on the back to force him to move. You were about seven
    or eight years old. You grabbed the stick from the kid and broke it
    in half with the words "if people don't have sticks nobody gets hurt."
    Subliminally, I'm sure Kevin learned peace is better than war that

    Thanks for your loving thoughts,

    1. Thanks Dad! I do not remember this, but appreciate you sharing the story.

  4. Doug:
    What a terrific brother you are. We love Kevin but he is blessed to be so loved and understood by you.
    Janis J

    1. Thanks Janis! Yeah there are very few that really understand Kevin, and I am proud to say that I think I am one.

  5. Wow! This whole story was so thought provoking! You have passed on some really great lessons - i know that I will keep them in my pocket and use them when needed. You know - I have heard you say "no worries" to me numerous times - now I know where you were coming from! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you and your brother are both very lucky to have each other.

  6. Thanks Robin, I feel like 99% of what we worry about on a daily basis are "no worries" types of problems. We can deal with those! Appreciate feedback.