Born just 14 months apart, siblings Nico, 6, and twins Matteo and Nicolette, 5 have always been more like triplets. The strength of their bond was immediately apparent the first time we met them while participating in Friends of Karen’s Friends Having Fun group. They giggled together while they scrambled to find items for the scavenger hunt activity- bringing their signature mix of playfulness and energy to the group. In many ways they are a typical, loving, close knit family; they love to play in the backyard together, have family game nights and they may even occasionally squabble over a toy. Raising children, even ones who are such a joy as these three is a challenge and even more so during a global pandemic. In May of 2020 the strength of this family and their bond was tested even further when Matteo was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
With a life changing diagnosis it can feel like a link in a chain is off – affecting them all. Covid-19, hospital visits, procedures and tests were suddenly a huge part of their lives. Nico, Matteo and Nicolette’s parents are caring and resourceful. Their mother had the insight and mama bear instinct to reach out to Friends of Karen for help with navigating the changes and challenges that her family was facing in connection to the diagnosis. Their wonderful Social Worker, Marla, referred them to Sibling Support services to provide the children with illness education- to help them better understand the diagnosis in age appropriate terms and emotional support- to encourage expression of their big feelings and learn special ways to let them out and cope. Perhaps most importantly Sibling Support services act as a bridge for communication between the children and their parents. We invite you to read below for an interview with these remarkable children as they share what makes their family special and how they have kept their bond so very strong through these unprecedented times.
What makes your family special?
Nico- Loving each other makes us special.
Nicolette- I have a twin Matteo and a big brother Nico and a new pet. My family loves each other and we are all heroes.
What makes your sibling special?
Matteo is a superhero who loves dinosaurs. Nicolette is caring and loves ice cream and Nico is a great big brother who loves to hang out with his cousins.
What is the hardest part about Matteo having a serious illness?
Matteo- Going to the hospital so much is hard and frustrating.
Nicolette- Matteo has a “boo-boo” in his head. Mommy has to go to the hospital a lot and it makes me feel sad. Sometimes I feel sad at school and cry.
Nico- I get worried when Matteo goes to the hospital, but my new dog Marley helps when I’m feeling that way.
You all work so hard in Sibling Support sessions. What are your favorite things that we do together?
Nico- I love making the masks. I showed what feelings I keep on the inside and what I show on the outside.
Nicolette- I loved making the crown together and writing what makes me special all around it.
Matteo – I like to write together!
What helps you when you feel sad?
Nicolette- It helps to look at the picture we made together with the hearts. I know that my heart is always connected to Mommy’s even when she’s at the hospital. We also made a special journal that Mommy and I write and draw in and leave notes for each other when we miss each other.
Matteo- Squeezing model magic or petting Marley, my dog.
What is something that you are proud of?
Nico- my family!
Nicolette- I am proud of Matteo when he’s brave when he gets a shot in his port. Access his port.
What do you like to do with your family?
Nico- I like when we play games together. Games like Connect Four, Uno and Charades.
Matteo- I like to go to the beach with my family.
Any advice for kids like you?
Nico- Stay strong!
Anything else that you would like to share?
Matteo- I love how my family takes care of me. Everyone calls me “Mighty Matteo!”