Rob of Memory Pebble left a comment on the Siblings post which I feel really should be published as an entry in its own right:
Norah, the sibling of our boy with A.L.L., is a remarkably resilient 4-year-old (she just turned 4). I don't think we try to "make up for" all the attention that Fergus gets because of his illness, but we make it pretty clear how much she is cherished in our family.
Still, on some level she may feel that she's missing out on something, because she often asks for medicine and/or claims symptoms that she doesn't really have so that she can have medicine. She also has a penchant for putting bandaids (don't know if they are called that in the rest of the world or not) over every minor scratch she can find on her body. And I did overhear her recently tell Fergus, "When I'm six, I'm going to have cancer too," as if cancer is something to aspire to.
I think it's interesting how kids interpret the idea of cancer, and I wonder, exactly, what the parents of Fergus' friends have told their kids about him.
Some, I know, have avoided the issue altogether (in one case because of an illness in their own family). Others have told their kids something about it, but I don't know what, really. Perhaps it doesn't matter.
I also wonder what fergus' exact understanding is. I mean, I know he knows it's a serious thing, leukemia, and that all these treatments are meant to get rid of "his" leukemia. But it's not like we've held him down and said, "Look, kid, this could kill you." And most of the kids books on the subject are kind of vague on this point. But still, he knows it's serious business, I think, and not something to aspire to--no matter how many boxes of LEGOs the treatments translate into.
He just turned seven in January, so maybe he's not ready to think about whether or not his illness is life-threatening. Or maybe he's just waiting until the treatments are over, and the port is out of his chest, and he can start to feel like this is behind him. He might, this summer, be ready to talk about mortality, and about dodged bullets.
But I'll be ducking for a long time to come.
He also pointed me to another site he keeps about Fergus and Norah.