“Nami is amazing. Did you see that he tried to feed McKay bread? Incredible! I've never seen him willingly part with food.” – said my sister, Meridith, in an email to me, after attending her son’s birthday party. This statement echoed many that were made by my family when Nami did something he’d never done before.
Family gatherings are usually very stressful for me. I watch as Nami wrecks place settings, plays with decorations, and throws toys, furniture, and any other item he can get a hold of around the house. He drinks out of any and every cup he can get a hold of, which sometimes is up to 27 cups scattered around my parents’ counters. If any food is left within arms-length, he grabs it and eats it. It could be a stick of butter, an onion or a bowl of frosting. It doesn’t matter. At mealtime my kids eat A LOT of food and they eat it FAST. When their food is off their plates and Salesi and I refuse to give them any more of the food off our plates, they start making the rounds. If anyone is not looking at their plates, my kids will seize the moment and steal their food. My family is not bothered by Nami’s behavior, always reassuring me that he’s okay and that they want me to relax and have a good time. I feel I’m getting better at it, but it still stresses me out. Since Kope is only 21 months old, he mimics everyone’s behavior, including Nami’s. The pair of them is quite a handful.
This weekend was like most others where we have a big family meal with lots of people. We went to my sister’s to celebrate her son’s 2 year birthday. She invited her good friends to come. This family has two 15 year old boys (McKay and Alex) with cerebral palsy and they can’t walk, talk or feed themselves. Before dinner started I was busy shoving bread into my kids’ hands, keeping them off the table, and making sure they didn’t tear the place down. At one point, my mom came into the kitchen and said, “Annaka, did you see Nami trying to feed McKay his bread?” WHAT!?! Nami doesn’t share food, he takes food. After eating, I went into the living room and sat with Alex and McKay. I watched as Nami continually went up to each of them and talked to them in his own little language. I saw Nami try to help McKay take a drink out of his cup. McKay smiled at him. It was like Nami could sense their special spirits and they could sense his. This truly was extraordinary.
What was equally amazing to me was how Kope interacted with McKay and Alex. He kept going over to them and talking with them. He was especially taken with Alex, tapping his leg while talking to him. He climbed on Alex’s wheel of his wheel chair in order to get closer to him and tell him his stories. Of course we pulled him right off, but I was so touched to see how he had a great desire to interact with these beautiful boys. It reiterated to me that he is truly meant to be Nami’s brother. He is understanding, loving and doesn’t judge.
These boy’s mother wrote to me, “It's remarkable how some kids just gravitate to [our sons], and how interesting that Nami would see their need and try to help them. What a sweet boy.” I felt like they were kindred spirits and it was a beautiful thing for me to witness. I love to capture sweet moments like this where I really get to see who my boys are.