The JoJo Experience: The first time we met

Monica Godnick, Editor-In-Chief

Jealousy is a feeling that toddlers and children often experience in their first social situations, when one child gets more attention than the other. Even in high school, it manifests itself different ways, from who is best at a given sport to who has the best grades or who is going to get into the best college. Like any first child, my special needs sister Joanne, a.k.a JoJo, was extremely jealous of me when I was born. I cannot possibly remember events from when I was a baby, but my mom likes to tell me the story of how Joanne began to like me.

Joanne was just over one year old when I was born, so her jealousy was mostly based on the fact that she did not want to share our parents’ attention with me. It also did not last long, just the first couple of days. Those first nights, I would sleep next to her in the same bed, and JoJo could not stop crying all night and she refused to look at me directly. Like most older siblings at this age, Joanne did not understand why she had to share with me and she was upset that before she was no longer the only one who had my parents’ tender loving care. “It was surprising to see that even with her genetic condition she could sense that someone could possibly threaten her place. However these feelings of jealousy barely lasted two days, and ever since she has done nothing but adore you,” my mom told me.

A stuffed animal is what broke the ice between us. I began to play with a toy dog with JoJo and she would not stop giggling. This officially marked the beginning of a very unique bond. I was a baby who didn’t understand much of the world either, and the blissful thing about that young innocence was that when I began to get to know and interact more with my sister I didn’t see her condition, I didn’t see her as different, I was just playing with my big sister. When we grow older within society, our minds are sometimes trained to jump to all kinds of prejudices, and being born into my sister’s life has helped me view people for who they are as a person rather than automatically differentiating based on superficial traits. JoJo to this day still loves to play and even though I have grown out of that phase, playing with toys or even passing the ball is a way JoJo connects with me. No one expresses the joy and excitement to spend time with me the way JoJo does.

Three years later, my little brother came into the picture. Joanne wasn’t jealous this second time around. Now JoJo not only had one, but two siblings to play with. For me, it’s also relieving to know that I am not going through this alone. Joanne is still developmentally a toddler, which means she is extremely dependent on us. My brother and I support each other all the time and when helping take care of JoJo, we always have each other’s backs. Of course we have our small petty fights, but I know that even when we are adults and it’s our turn to step up and help take care of JoJo we will always be there for each other. Even though she might’ve felt threatened by me at first, she is now laying her head on my shoulder while I am typing this article and she will always be the precious baby of the family.