The sibling dynamic changed within days of the leukaemia diagnosis.
Before diagnosis, the dynamic of the Team Brown kids was pretty straightforward. I can’t imagine it is in any way different to most other sibling relationships. Big Girl Brown led her team of little ducklings. She organised them, nurtured them and prepared them for whatever was coming next. Felix, the middle-child, had the best of both worlds; he could sit back and be led by big sister, or if the mood took his fancy, he would take the rein and adopt the big brother role. Little Brother Brown has always looked up to either his brother or sister for guidance and answers; he has never had to think for himself when his brother or sister are around.
This all changed. In the last 12 weeks, Felix has been out of action and sometimes unable to take part in even the simplest of daily activities. In those first weeks of diagnosis and when he had an infection he was out of the equation completely. When he was at home there were times when he couldn’t sit up, go to the toilet unassisted, sit with us to eat or even go upstairs to bed. His constant feeling of sickness and physical limitations meant that the X-Box was out of the question and kicking a ball around in the garden was just a distant dream. Team Brown No 4 was well and truly out of action. They missed each other terribly.
This impacted on the sibling dynamic in different ways but, without doubt, his absence left a huge hole and changes had to take place to compensate. The greatest change was on his little brother. At first, he wandered aimlessly around the house, not knowing what to do. It was astounding to realise just how much they did together and how lost he was without Felix. Felix clearly took the lead in all decisions about play and leisure; Little Brother was lost, he had no idea how to entertain himself. It also became evident that he ‘hid behind’ Felix at school. Felix was no longer there on the school run to say ‘hello’ to neighbours or to wave to other members of the school community. With Felix out of the equation, Little Brother had to step up and stop hiding behind his big brother.
And do you know what, he did step up. Little Brother has blossomed and relished his new role. He has had to learn to motivate himself, interact with others and make decisions. In his absence, Little Brother temporarily filled Felix’s shoes and has done us all proud. In a strange way, he recognised that this was a temporary measure and that as soon as Felix was well, normal dynamics would resume. And true to form, as Felix starts to enjoy X-Box again and kick a ball around the garden, the sibling dynamics return to the normal Little Brother, Big Brother routine.