One of the things we think is wrong with society today is the "me, me, me" attitude that everyone has. I think it causes the sense of entitlement that our country now finds to be the norm and it causes us to lack the empathy that our nation once had. It is really important to us that our children not suffer the same fate and that we instill in them from birth that the sun does not shine on them alone and while we find them absolutely special and amazing and a blessing from God, the world does not revolve around them. They will not always get what they want and there are times when it is far more important to help others than to help ourselves. One of the ways we've tried to teach that is to have Kaitlyn put herself in the shoes of another. Think about how it would feel like if the role was reversed and stuff like that. The upside is that she is a very empathetic kid. The downside is that at 5 1/2 she does take things personally.
Matthew's balloon release was earlier this month. To Kaitlyn, this is more than just a balloon release and to be honest it is for us too. It is a time to celebrate Matthew's birthday. Until the end of time, Matthew will always be Kaitlyn's little brother. She remembers him everyday, she remembers times they spent together, the songs she would sing him, holding him, hugging him, kissing him, sharing with him, reading to him and his time both at the hospital and at home. He is very much a part of her life and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Kaitlyn loves birthdays. She thinks they are just the bees knees. She likes that every year we have a birthday party for Matthew. She helps a lot with picking out decorations, balloons, spends time writing her birthday wishes out for him and makes him a card. It is a very important event to her. The only close second is March for Babies and her own birthday. She gets so excited to know that her family and friends are there with her to celebrate her brother and really looks forward to it.
She was very disappointed and hurt when some family members didn't make it. She kept asking why and to be honest I didn't have an answer. She knew that there were those who really wanted to be there, but couldn't because of obligations at work or illnesses that prevented them from going and she truly understood that. She understood that there are circumstances that prevent people from going places, and understands that since they are there for just about everything else, it doesn't change everything. It's those that aren't. Those that show inconsistency that really bothered her. In Kaitlyn's mind not showing equals not caring. And while I can completely understand that train of thought, that theory and agree with it, we both care too much about Kaitlyn to allow her to believe that family doesn't care. That just isn't right and it isn't fair to her. She is young and should still believe that there is an infinite amount of good in the world and family is always there for each other. We had her pretty well convinced and feeling much better about it all.
Since then we've seen them at other birthday parties and Kaitlyn's heart broke. She said that it just proved that we were wrong and she was right, they don't care. No amount of us convincing her otherwise could change her mind, so we dropped the subject with her and hoped she would just forget about it. And we thought she had until this morning. She asked again, 3 weeks later, why they would go to other people's birthdays and not her brothers.
The more we talked it out, the more I understood where she was coming from. She wasn't questioning their love for Matthew, more like she was questioning their love for us, his family. She wanted to know why it was important to them for us to go to all of their birthday parties and events and not important to them to go to things that were important to us. And this led to a conversation that could not be held in 5 or 6 year old language, but rather in the cruel language of adults. And she understood. She doesn't doubt their love, she just finds it unfair and selfish.
An important lesson to her emerged through our talk. What matters is not who isn't there. Obviously those people are not the ones of great importance in our lives and we shouldn't hold them higher than what they truly are. But those that are consistently there for us are those that we should make a priority in our lives. Those are the people that we should make sure to always be there for and to always show gratitude for their kindness and support.
In Kaitlyn's words "it doesn't mean we ever stop loving them, they are family, but sometimes some people are more important and care more than others and we should be really, really happy to have them."
And I couldn't have said it better myself.