An Unexpected Addition

An Unexpected Addition

Brooke Johnson, Staff Writer

Up until six years ago, I was an only child. Just my mom, my grandma and I. Spending girl time with my mom seemed important to me, and we did it often. We would go to the movies together and have spa days. Then we got this little visitor every other weekend, my five year old cousin, Kason. My mom told me he would be visiting. He lived with his grandma who didn’t take good care of him and my mom wanted custody of him.

No one told me this right away. I had been told this would allow me to connect with my family.

One day my mom sat me down and said Kason would be staying with us for a while. I felt so excited because I loved him more than anything. A while later, my mom told me she wanted him to live with us forever. I jumped and screamed because I felt so excited. I thought I would finally be getting the sibling I always wanted. I didn’t understand what needed to happen to get full custody over someone, so when my mom seemed stressed, it confused me. I remember her running around the house making everything perfect but I didn’t understand why. She said we shouldn’t worry because she knew we would get custody of him but I could tell she did not take her own advice.

Kason lived with us for a couple months when his grandma said she wanted to take him to her house for a visit. She took him for the weekend, but he never came back.

I remember feeling afraid because I didn’t know what happened to him. Awful thoughts going through my mind. What if someone hurt him? What if no one could find him? Why did his grandma do this? It seemed like he just disappeared. After 3 months of panicking and hoping the worst hadn’t come true, our private investigator finally found him. Afterwards, the court made up their mind to give us full custody. I felt thrilled to have a brother. I hoped we would become best friends and do everything together and we would be inseparable.

But slowly things started to change.

When Kason first started living with us, he called my mom by her name, Nena. After a while he started calling her mom. For some reason it bothered me. She wasn’t his mom, she’s mine. I didn’t want to share her. She replaced a gift I gave her of a picture of me and her with a picture of all three of us. I felt betrayed. I no longer mattered. I no longer got to go to the movies with just my mom or have a spa day. I no longer got girl time. The spotlight started to fade off me and onto him.

My dream sibling didn’t live up to my fantasies. Instead of doing everything together, he played by himself under the dining room table. He obsessed over the movie Cars, more than the average kid obsessed over anything. He has speech problems and he couldn’t pronounce his own name correctly. We assumed it stemmed from his lack of education and because he used to play alone. Then we found it. Kason is autistic. Everything changed.

Immediately my mom and grandma took him to doctors trying to figure out what they could do to “cure” him. It became “We need to get this for Kason” and “Kason needs to do that” and “This is the best thing for Kason.” My mom would, and sometimes still does, constantly talk to his school to see what would be best for him. She signed him up for horseback riding classes and a baseball team for special needs kids. I couldn’t go out with my mom because she needed to take care of Kason.

Things slowly started calming down. My mom and grandma stopped rushing him to every doctor within a 30 mile radius and the phone calls and visits to school were less frequent.

Once the chaos calmed down, I started calling him my brother and I acted like it too. I learned what he could and couldn’t handle and if I wanted to play with him, I would have to do what he wanted. Which I learned to accept. My mom taught in Kennedale so he went to her school so she could keep an eye on him. He survived Kindergarten through fourth grade with her. Then my mom got an offer to teach at Mansfield and she took it.

Kason changed school districts and my worse fear came true.

I had always been a protective sister. Even more so because he’s different. No one would so much as look at him the wrong way when I came around. But I couldn’t always be around. Last year was his first year at a school without my mom. He started a new school with new people. I had never been more worried in my life. I had a right to be. Towards the end of the school year people started picking on him but when the year ended and I thought it would be over.

I was wrong.

This year has only worsened. Kids call his lunchbox stupid and dumped his lunch out. I got so angry and thought if we never won custody of him, none of this would’ve happened. I wouldn’t have this hate in my heart and I wouldn’t constantly be stressed and worried about him. He’s getting all this attention again and I’ve gone back into the shadow of the spotlight.

Over the years it got easier to accept sharing my mom. And the spotlight. He can’t always go to my marching band competitions and volleyball tournaments because there’s too much going on for him. Sometimes it still gets frustrating to see my mom doing all of these things for my brother, but I know we gave him a better life so it’s worth it. I love him more than the world and I would do absolutely anything for him.