It is Christmas.
Video camera in hand, I was ready to tape our boys opening their gifts, as I do every year.
“Santa came” Ethan stood in the doorway, hands out stretched while J anxiously waited for him to move. I guided Ethan over to his bag of presents. “For Ethan” I pointed at his name, knowing his name is unrecognisable to him anymore. He walked past me, over to D’s presents. ” Presents” he smiled. “Yes, yes. Here’s Ethan’s” I gently guided him back over to his own.
J, on the other hand was ripping through his bag full of presents,oblivious to Ethan grabbing his ‘Mario’ DS holder, until he felt ‘Mario’s’ head bang across his back. “Ohhh Ethan, that’s mine. Mom tell him” J roared. “Shh, it’s ok, J. Naughty Ethan”, I narrowed my eyes, knowing Ethan had no clue what was so naughty about hitting his brother with a foot tall, plastic ‘Mario’ toy. I grabbed another present from Ethan’s bag and handed it to him. “Open” I smiled.
Baby D had now finished and was interested in his stacking blocks. I zoomed in on J who had now had come to his last gift. “Ah mom, this is a Wii U game”, he placed it behind him. Shrugging his shoulders he smiled at me. I saw the disappointment, straight away but pretended I hadn’t. “Can you not play that on the Wii J?” I asked. “Nope”, he shrugged, picked up his ‘Mario’ DS holder, ‘This is cool though” he smiled. “I’m sorry sweetie. I thought you could play it on your Wii” I kissed his forehead. D rubbed his back. “Are ya happy with your presents?”, which amounted to boring clothes, socks, underpants, books, a DS holder and a game he can’t play. “YES” he smiled right down the lens of the camera. “That’s great J” D winked at me.
“Oh, J” he looked at me. “Have a look behind that bag there” I pointed the camera to a shelf in our sitting room, where a bag was hanging. His granddad removed the bag. J looked at it. Looked at D then at me. His eyes wide. He jumped. He looked again. Ethan broke the moment by yelping when he came across his ‘Mickey Mouse’ annual. We all laughed. I turned the camera back on a silent J. “Well. what’s that J?” I laughed. “For me?” he blinked.”Really?” his mouth grew into the biggest smile I had ever seen my 9 year old make. “Sure is” D answered. “Wow” he jumped up, clapped his hands and screeched with delight while jumping on D , then turning his affection to me. “Thank you thank you thank you, I can play the game!”. “You are very welcome kiddo” I laughed as I steadied the camera. I felt my eyes sting. We sure had made this boy happy. “Go ahead, Dad has it all set up.”I patted his leg,”play it”.
I turned the camera back to baby D, who was now trying to eat the wrapping paper while his nanny tried her best to get it out of his hand, then I panned over to Ethan, who was sitting quietly, surrounded by presents,looking at J. I crawled over to him, as J began to play. “Open Ethie” I handed him another present.
I knew, there in that moment, christmas would never be the same again. My Ethie had lost the idea of presents, he didn’t seem to care. He enjoyed watching J open his and baby D, but he’d little interest in opening his own. I turned the camera off.
I sat with him trying to show him all the toys Santa had left, he wasn’t interested. Santa had brought a puppet, Ethan didn’t care. Santa brought a light up fairy, nope, no interest, ‘Mr Tumbles’ floor puzzle did bring curiosity but that was quickly dismissed as crap, he threw it across the floor. My heart sank, as Santa had clearly got it all right for one boy and so very wrong for the other.
We did have a lovely Christmas, I did spend most of the day trying to get Ethan interested in the puppet, at least. I was determined he would enjoy that god damn puppet. Eventually, when the dinner was ate and bellies were over filled, I managed to get Ethan to interact with ‘Liam’ , as he called it. So we played, laughed, kissed and punched ‘Liam’ until bed time.
I went to bed happy, even though I knew Christmas had now changed for Ethan, I knew I could still engage him in some of the things he used to love.
I just have to break it to my brother that he has a big, hairy, purple monster puppet named after him.