I was reading some hokey and generic story on MSNBC about sibling rivalry. No fair that older sister got more pictures taken for the family album. No fair that I couldn't get my ears pierced until I was 16, but little sister got hers done at ten! Waah! Whine! Complain!
While it's true that my parents DID love my brother more, they were always very careful to try to conceal this fact with identical presents quite frequently. If Dad went to Ireland on a business trip, we BOTH got little lambs as a souvenir. Once he went to London and we got matchbox double-decker busses! I wonder what happened to those...I think the little door got broken and then the toy was sharp and had to be pitched. Anyway, the point being we all as parents do the best we can. And unless we have been molested or seriously abused, we need to just get over the fact that Mom and Dad weren't always fair. I mean, you don't see me complaining about that one time my mom made me eat cigarette ash-covered hot dogs out of the trash after I hid them there and said I ate everything like a good girl, do you? (HI, MOM!! Happy Mother's Day tomorrow!) Or the time my mom made me give up a whole Oreo cookie to my bratty little brother just because I asked him, "Do you want it? Well, you can't have it! Ha ha ha ha haaa..." These little injustices are only dwelt on by the petty. ;]
But on a more serious note, any sort of semblance of treating your children identically is out the window when one or more is autistic, and you have a 14-year age difference between the oldest and youngest. There's just no way to do it unless you want to buy T-shirts for every occasion. Oh, but even then, I'm sure we'd hear the whining about "his shirt is bigger than mine."
Patrick has almost unlimited time with the Wii system and internet access. He's shown over several years that he is trustworthy with these items. When he's called away to do a chore or help out in some way, I get cheerful obedience almost always. He manages his homework and other responsibilities on his own. "Do you have homework?" is really a conversation-starter when Patrick arrives at school. It helps me to plan dinnertime and that sort of thing, and is not a "nag" sort of question.
G, though, bless him, has lost his internet privileges for at least another year (nuff said) and his Nintendo off-and on almost continually. His autism is a disability, and I keep that in mind when he blows his top. No way Patrick would get away with some of the stuff he does. The consequences for G are much lighter than they would be for Patrick in the same situation.
And Elf and Emperor are not practicing their store behaviour in the same way I taught Patrick and G. At this age, I would give them a big safety lecture and then let them look at Legos while I'm in the next aisle. You can't do that with Elf and Emperor. Elf would get scared, likely, but Emperor would run into people and hug them or wrestle with the old lady and her cane. He ran up to some stranger and KISSED him on the face today - yes, he did! I freaked out and so did the baby's mom. She said something like, "He's sick enough today without your germs." Thanks, Emperor, for exposing yourself to germs after my lecture of, "WE DON'T KISS STRANGERS IN THE STORE!" before entering the premises. I still wound up complimenting him when we got to the car, though. Kid, you only kissed ONE stranger and hugged ONE person and jumped in front of and play-attacked only three people who were trying to shop! Big improvement from last time, buddy! Yay!
But I think that it creates some serious issues for the non-affected sibling. Poor Patrick has really been most forbearing with his family, but I can tell that he would do things differently. I see the look in his eye when two little babies are screaming, G is howling about how unfair life is because it's all my fault and blah blah blah, Emperor is obliviously dancing with his fingers twisted up while he makes funny sounds. The look that says my family will never be like this when I am out of here. I am soooo out of here. As soon as I can get out of here.
I don't blame ya, kid. I hope we can still be friends when you are an adult. I'm sorry for all those missed opportunities. The times you knew you couldn't bring friends over because of the behaviour they'd see. The embarrassment your brother G causes you at school and on the bus, and how it feels to have your little brothers meet your friends. I know you have lost friends because of this. I also know that some "friends" showed their true character when they saw how easy it would be to make fun of your siblings. If it's any comfort, hokey as it sounds, it helped weed out the bad friends and make room for the nice young men you associate with.
I'm sorry for all the times I've had to be unfair to each of my children when another had a need. It all does work out, though. I think having to live with one another's oddities makes us more tolerant people in the classic sense of the word. I think that it does teach compassionate living to a degree that simply cannot be mastered by only children who don't have to share the last cupcake or a favourite toy or even a friend.