Blog: Our Reality Show

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  • The Oldests

    We should have known then that something was different about Kate. And I think, deep down, that we did.

    She walked at nine months, graduating to running two months later. She was talking in full sentences at a year. Her tantrums had a ferocity to them — “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System!”

    And she never slept. To this day, I don’t think she ever rests.

    Kate, our oldest daughter, is ADHD/bipolar. She also is very bright, yet she wrestles with paranormal forces that lurk inside her brain. At times, she is a hard child to embrace, as if the disorder creates a force field that prevents you from warming up to her, even though that’s what she wants and needs more than anyone.

    ••••••

    He wants nothing more than to be on stage — it’s his calling, he says. And he has to sit on the sidelines while his younger brother moves (seamlessly it seems) from show to show, graduating from recitals to the Washington, D.C., stage to New York in a remarkably short period of time.

    Nicholas also is a child of divorce, the oldest child in our family. Geography requires him to travel at least 250 miles one way to see us.

    He’s split between two families with five half siblings, all with different interests, strengths, and challenges. He’s divided between parents who genuinely don’t like each other. He is so ready to get on with life after high school, but deep down I think he’s nervous about his future and what it holds for him.

    He looks just like my ex; in many ways he acts just like me.

    ••••••

    Nicholas and Kate are my oldest children.

    On the surface, they’re like many above-average, middle/upper middle class kids you see today, navigating that all-too-difficult phase from 12 to 18 that captures, enraptures, exhilarates and frustrates them and us. They will be the first to tell you that their families love them. They will be the first to say that life is fun, but not easy.

    Welcome to the club, you think. You'll learn.

    At times, you want to shout how much worse they could have it. (Remember the speech your mom and dad gave you when you wouldn't finish your food?)

    And while all of that is true, this is their reality.

    It’s our job to show them how to navigate it. A daunting task, indeed…