Every afternoon after daycare, the kids come tromping in the house with their bags of belongings. Sol proudly opens his lunchbox, takes out the parts he has saved for ‘later’, puts his lunchbox on the counter, puts his shoes in the designated basket, and then sits down on the couch waiting for his movie. He starts to eat his food like a dignified man while he recites the discoveries, trespasses, and unsolveable mysteries of the day.
Zaviera enters the house in her mismatched clothes. She calls out to Pepita, “Hello boy!” (Pepita is a female dog) Does a twirl, kicks off her shoes in opposite directions, takes her lunchbox out of her bag, looks at it, starts talking to it, and then after several reminders to put it away looks up at me and wide-eyed, declares, “Sorry mom, i was telling it about my kah-brella! Where is my kah-brella? It’s not raining in here! I don’t know where it is!” She twirls again. There are several layers of grubby all over her skin. She does a little hop-skip and joins Sol on the couch announcing, “We’re going to watch a girl movie! A pink one!”
“NO,” Sol says, “We’re not. You don’t get to say.” He takes another bite of his snack and wipes his mouth carefully. “Mommy, Zaviera doesn’t get to say, does she? That’s not fair. Last night she got to pick the movie. And last week. I get to pick the movie.” He turns to her and uses his Big Person Instructional Voice, “Zaviera I get to choose the movie because it’s fair.”
In the kitchen, I open up the lunchboxes. Sol’s is so clean it only needs a quick swipe. Zaviera’s lunchbox looks like a gang of monkeys got drunk and vomitted in it.
It took us exactly 24 hours and one or two ‘accidents’ to get Sol potty trained. Zaviera, on the other hand, has known for almost a year now how to use the toilet and we will still find her standing in the middle of the hall, a big grin on her face and a puddle at her feet. She considers it a moment of pride when she poos in her undies, grabs it out with her bare hand, displays it to us and then marches to the toilet to flush it. As you might have guessed, she stands in front of the toilet and waves a happy goodbye to the poo to send it on its journey. “See you later!” she says, waving with great enthusiasm.
For about a year now, we have had these two creatures sharing a room together. We thought it would help them bond and teach Sol how to share and be more tolerant. It did. But everyone has their limitations. Recently I walked in to the bedroom to find Sol choking Zaviera with his stuffed, ten-foot snake. Later on in the day, I watched as Zaviera began to play with one of her new birthday presents only to have Sol swoop down, sending Zaviera scampering into the corner to tell off the dustmites. I have to say, living with Sol has given Zaviera a strength that means she is not easily bullied. The girl can throw a punch when she needs to.
It wasn’t fair to either of them. Sol didn’t have the space he needed to maintain control of his world, Zaviera didn’t have the space to inhabit hers. As I said to Dan, “You could never expect Adrian Monk (the OCD – Asperger detective) to not be driven over the edge by sharing a room with the Cookie Monster.”
While Sol was the one wielding the anaconda with deadly intent, the truth is, my Cookie Monster of a daughter thrills in tormenting him with her crumbs. Now that they have their own bedrooms, we are starting to see the beauty in the way they hold down their territory at the opposite end of the spectrum; one takes the world a part in exploration, the other helps put it back together. And when they clash somewhere in the middle, it is a showdown that inspires a moment of admiration before we prevent bloodshed.