August 30, 2010

The boys are back in town

Paul and Louis spent a whirlwind weekend in Chicago visiting family and friends and happily attending two White Sox games. Frank Thomas -- Paul's all-time favorite Sox player -- was being honored on Sunday at the game. They went for that celebration and so Louis could spend some time with his best buddy Liam and see his other "old" friends. One of the hardest parts of moving from Naperville was leaving a secure friend situation for Louis. We have to admit though that the kids here in Montreal have been fantastic to Louis.

Liam is someone special for all of us. It's been "Liam and Louis" for over ten years -- Liam and Louis have known each other since they were two. In fact, when they were younger, they were often mistaken for one another. Our families have become good friends over the years and we've been fortunate to spend vacations and holidays together.  We don't have to be on guard when we are together -- in other words -- we can yell at our kids, roll our eyes at meltdowns and generally not feel self-conscious if we lose our shit. Not that we ever do, of course.

At Bears training camp in 2005 when the moms decided to take a day trip -- this photo was taken just before all hell broke loose between the four kids...just like siblings. There was a lot of yelling going on.
I was talking with Jackie (Liam's mom) yesterday on the phone after the tornado of two boys and two dads left her house with luggage, tailgating necessities (no sunscreen of course, we are talking about dads) and White Sox gear to head to the 1 pm game. We were talking about what their relationship would be like if we still lived there. We both agreed they would still be close. We also agreed that as the boys in the neighborhood get older, kids tend to go in dozens of directions. However, at the same time as kids with special needs get older (Liam is autistic) these kids with special needs tend to spend more time together at school as the gap between "typical" kids gets bigger. In elementary school Liam and Louis were always separated by classrooms. They never had classes together because as one teacher said "they are a bit physically intimidating." Ya think?  Plus, they are so comfortable together it would be like having siblings in the same class, something that is not often practiced.

What could possibly be "intimidating" about these boys in the classroom? It was fun going through old photos...they've played many sports together. This Colts photos was their first football game on the same team and they were appointed captains for the opening game. circa 2005.

The Louis/Liam relationship is something special. It's important that we get the boys together a few times a year and  both families have made it a priority. The Kirstein family came to visit in 2009 and it meant the world to us.

Later that year we met up in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It's always been interesting to watch the two of them communicate. Louis' speech has improved a lot over the last couple of years. Of course, it's not at all "typical" and likely won't be. But Liam has always been able to understand Louis, to know what he's thinking, and often to communicate for Louis (teachers really love this) when he couldn't communicate well himself. We could often overhear the two of them "chatting" or more often yelling cheering at a game on TV or in person. But sometimes they would just be silent, yet still communicating.

Siblings of special needs kids share an important bond. Danielle and Gen have become good friends too during the year. They have the same energy and look out for their brothers. It's really cool. 
Seeing the boys together is priceless...

At the recent White Sox game

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