A moment on the radio: NPR piece on sibs

I just returned from visiting my family for Thanksgiving (and Chanukah) and am slowly wading through the 150+ emails that accumulated in my inbox during my break. (Despite, you know, having monitored my email while away.) There’s a lot on my mind about my trip, but I’m also trying to get my work back up to speed as I shift from one part of my project to another, so that may have to wait. In the meantime, there are some interesting topics that I’m finding in my inbox that I’d like to mention. Like this:

Recently, NPR Weekend Edition included a short piece by Kim Green, on sibs (new window; transcript and link to audio). From Don Meyer, via SibNet:

In an ongoing series of stories about sibling issues, NPR featured a Sibshop
at the Kennedy Center at Vanderbilt. […] While the story’s title refers to sibs of kids who are sick, it is actually
broader than that.

Meghan Burke, the Sibshop facilitator, can be heard on this piece. If you’d
like to learn more about Sibshops and SibSaturdays at Vanderbilt, visit
http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/site/services/disabilityservices/sibsaturday.aspx

Congrats on the good publicity, Meghan, Ashley, and other Vandy sib-friends!

Don

My reaction to seeing sib issues covered in the news is normally a mix of relief, pride, and satisfaction: “We are here, and people know that, and they care.” Reading this, I had those brief emotional moments, but I also laughed in a way that I can only imagine would be described as cynical. Because of this line: But experts say learning at an early age to put another persons needs first often leaves these siblings better adjusted in the long run. You may have noticed that I find it laughable that, from the outside, I might appear to be in the group of “better adjusted” individuals. I frequently feel anything but.

From my earliest memory of being social, I always felt I got along better with adults than with my age-group peers. I’ve mentioned some of my feelings of resentment that I am so keenly aware of how much of my life is about other people, while so many people around me remain (seemingly happily) oblivious to this fact, or how unimpressed I too often reveal myself to be to adults who have just realized that they are not the only people on the planet. I remember being told to lighten up when I was in elementary school, to laugh at jokes that the teacher made; I didn’t laugh because they were insulting jokes, and I was – arguably – overly empathetic to the subjects of said jokes. (I was very serious at that age about putting myself in someone else’s shoes.) So maybe, pessimist that I am, I focused on the ways in which an early dose of a sib’s medical/health issues triggering empathy doesn’t produce a well-adjusted, mentally healthy adult.

In an effort to shush the pessimistic voice in my head: I am pleased that someone managed to post the Sib Support info in a comment on the story. I’m really glad to hear voices of young men being represented. Most of the sibs I know personally are women, and I suspect that – due to social forces in the US – men and women who have sibs with disabilities have some experiences that are not shared. It’s definitely good to have a major news outlet like NPR present stories about sibs that are free of excessive sentimentality and that are, you know, informative. Many Americans have siblings, typical or not, and it’s nice to take some time every now and then to remember that.

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