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Mum finds 'alarming' note stuck in daughter's homework book

9Honey logo 9Honey 30/06/2020 Jo Abi

One of my biggest fears having kids (among the many other fears andnightmares 'parent brain' sends my way) is that they would fight with each other constantly.

Without dobbing my siblings in too much, let's just say we didn't exactly love each other all the time. It was your typical love/hate sibling relationship.

One minute we'd be struggling to breathe because we were laughing so hard, and the next second, I was running for my life.

But something happened this week that left me feeling much better about the relationship between my kids, although it almost ended in disaster had I not intervened in the situation.

My daughter Caterina, 11, was struggling with her homework and I wasn't able to help her. She got really upset and I couldn't comfort her. Eventually I walked away to make dinner. While I was doing that, I heard Giovanni, 12, talking to her about something and then they started laughing and running around.

I felt relieved, although I did tell them to pipe down a little because I couldn't hear my podcast.

It wasn't until the next morning - as I was packing her school bag that - out of curiosity, I opened her homework book to see if she'd managed to figure out the activity that had so upset her.

Instead, I found this.

It was a note that had been stuck in her homework book, written in Giovanni's distinctive handwriting. It read: "This is way too difficult for 5th grade lol xo - Caterina's brother."

It was clearly intended for her teacher to see.

After I stopped laughing, I carefully removed it, so relieved I'd found it before it was too late.

I can't imagine her teacher's reaction had she seen it. I'm hoping she would have laughed!

I was so happy after seeing it because to me, it was evidence of their INCREDIBLE sibling relationship and it hasn't been an easy path for either of them.

This is why.

When my husband and I first got together, I told him that I was happy to have just one child hoping to avoid the same sibling rivalry that I'd grown up with, but I didn't realise how much I would love being a mum.

So we agreed to have another baby, and Giovanni arrived. Then I fell pregnant with Caterina (Kitty), our little surprise package.

They loved each other right away.

I remember the first day I realised I may have won the prize of having three children who actually adore each other. Kitty was a newborn and was lying on a play mat in the lounge room. Philip, then four, and Giovanni, then almost two, were playing in Philip's room.

I left Kitty to go and make myself a cup of coffee and when I came back, she was gone, along with her play mat. I RAN to Philip's room and saw the door had been closed.

When I opened it, there were the boys, playing on his bed, with Kitty on the floor, still on her play mat, gurgling happily.

They'd come into the lounge room and simply dragged her away into their room because - as Philip explained to me later - they wanted to be with her. And she hadn't even cried out in alarm, in my mind because she loved and trusted her brothers.

Their relationship just got better from that day, that is until the boys got older and Philip was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and mental illness and Giovanni was diagnosed with ASD as well. Our family fractured a little as my attention focused on the boys as they each went through the diagnostic process and various treatments and crises.

Although this didn't result in them fighting with each other. It was the opposite in fact. They became ridiculously polite with each other, especially Kitty towards her brothers, whom she had seen go through so much.

About a two years ago they started playing with each other again. About a year ago they started fighting.

I went from worrying that their sibling bond was irrevocably broken to worrying that they were developing the same torturous love/hate sibling relationship I'd grown up with.

Then I saw the note that Giovanni wrote and stuck in Kitty's homework book, that had clearly been the source of their laughter, and I've been feeling warm and fuzzy ever since.

By writing that note and going to the trouble of sticking it in his sister's homework book, Giovanni was expressing love, empathy and the blistering humour he exhibits only when he is with people who make him feel comfortable, which is a very small circle that thankfully includes his big brother and little sister, and most of the time, me.

I am so proud of the all, and of myself, for the little team we have become.

I felt even more proud when I heard Philip helping Kitty with her maths homework later that same night after I begged off of it because I am TERRIBLY HORRIBLY BAD at maths, even Year 5 maths.

And here's the part where I pat myself on the back but also say to all parents that whatever happens between our kids is okay. Sometimes they love each other. Sometimes they hate each other. Sometimes they play with each other. Sometimes they ignore each other.

But as long as they love each other and are there for each other when they need each other, then that's the best we can hope for. I know my siblings and I have become that for each other, and I can see that my kids will too.


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