It is funny how spending time with my family reminds me of who I am and why. For better or worse my shared history with my family allows them a unique insight into who I am.  This weekend, I extended a business trip—and brought Vivian along—so we could spend the weekend with my family in Arizona.  Not only was this time wonderful for me but for Vivian as well.

I brought Vivian with me on a trip to Arizona about the same time last year.  I didn’t realize how much that trip had meant to her until she began recalling details from the trip the other day—my now 4 year old recalling very specific details of a trip that happened nearly a year ago.  I have come to realize that these trips to Arizona are so important to Vivian for a variety of reasons including she gets some alone time with me, and with her grandparents but perhaps most importantly with her cousins.  Coming to Arizona allows Vivian the opportunity to spend a couple days having a constant playmate—her cousin, Trinity who is only six months younger than Vivian—who does not have special needs.  Vivian and Trinity play like sisters—they talk, sing, dance, play with dolls, fight, and start the cycle all over again.

Trinity and Vivian strike a pose in their gymnastics leotards.

I remember how much I loved spending times with my cousins growing-up and still today. But I think Vivian’s relationship with her cousins is even more important given the dynamic of her relationship with Caroline.  Not only does Vivian realize that Caroline is different but she also assumes a lot of responsibility to help Caroline with various tasks. Vivian makes a huge effort to play with Caroline and more times than not Caroline chooses not to engage with Vivian.  For the most part Vivian takes this rejection well but it must be frustrating for her. And even when the ladies are able to engage in an activity together it pretty much needs to be on Caroline’s terms.  Being Caroline’s sister can be a bit overwhelming.  I don’t think Vivian thinks about her relationship with Caroline this way but I definitely see how Vivian’s interactions with her peers are impacted by how she needs to interact with Caroline. 

We, as parents, make a major effort to offer Vivian opportunities to interact with a variety of kids but at the end of the day, Caroline is always going to be Vivian’s most frequent playmate.  Trips like this one offer Vivian a nice “break” and the opportunity to have a constant playmate who is not as high maintenance as Caroline.