I was watching the movie “Wonder” this weekend. Although it did not totally mimic my life, there were certainly a lot of similarities between the movie and my life.
Just to recap in case you haven’t seen this movie. There are two siblings – an older teenage daughter and a younger son who is about 10 years old. The son was born with a facial deformity. He has had many surgeries from the time he was born until the time that the movie starts where he is beginning grade 5. The older daughter is in high school. There are many things going on in the movie and there are many challenges that the son has to deal with. The mom had to quit her job so she could stay at home to help her son through these numerous surgeries that he had to endure. She gave up everything to attend to her son’s needs.
The son had been home schooled his whole life and how he is entering mainstream school. The main theme of the movie is about the son adjusting to school, being around peers, making friends, and being rejected by peers because of the way that he looks.
On the first day of school, the son comes home and is very upset but he doesn’t want his family to know about the hard day that he had. After dinner, he retreats to his room and eventually both parents end up in his room trying to comfort him. His sister comes up to go to her room where she witnesses the scene of both parents trying to comfort her brother.
No one pays attention to her. In fact, they don’t even notice her. She’s had a rough day at high school too. Her best friend since kindergarten has rejected her and she feels alone, but no one seems to care.
There is another scene in the movie where Olivia (the daughter) Mom asks her to take the day off school so that they can hang out. They are having lots of fun watching a movie, eating junk food and laughing when her Mom gets a call from the school stating that her son is sick. The Mom goes rushing off to the school and their day together is ruined.
This resembles my life so much. It doesn’t matter that my son has autism. When I truly look at the amount of time and attention that our daughter has received from me and how her brother’s issues impact her life, it’s on the same wave length. She always gets to be “second” if there is an urgency. Because she is older, she can manage. She’s clearly been short changed.
This makes me more empathetic of her situation. You see I love her more than anything in the world. I would do anything for her. I want to spend time with her, especially without any interruptions. Does it happen? Almost never. Is it fair? Absolutely not.
Is this my fault or her fault or her brother’s fault? No It is nobody’s fault. It is just the way it is.
Or the way it has been in the past.
I want to change that. I’m trying to change that. It’s tricky though. You see she’s a teenager and anyone who knows teenagers, even at the best of times, they don’t want to be around you.
Is having a sibling with autism difficult? Yes.
We will always try to make both our children happy and give them as much time as we possibly can.
The movie opened my eyes to the feelings of my daughter and this has made me more aware.
As a parent, if I could change certain things I would. I know that I do and have done my very best, although sometimes when I look into her eyes, it’s not enough. And I dream about our life when it was just her and I hanging out all the time and about how happy we were back then . . . before autism.
My hopes and dreams are that someday maybe she will understand and forgive me for not being enough for her.