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My entire family would greatly appreciate insight and suggestions.
I'm back home, in Canada, with my wife, and daughters 3 and 1 years old. Have been here for just over a month.
My sister is back as well, with her two young children, daughter 2.5 years old, and son 3 months old. Her husband was here, but is now back in the UK.
We're here because my father is dying of cancer: five weeks ago, he was given two to eight weeks. Obviously, he's not in good shape.
My niece, M, has been regressing in her behavior. Pretty early on, she started being unusually violent: hitting or pushing my oldest one, W; then biting her baby brother; yesterday, she thunked my youngest on the head with a length of wood. Not good, even for such an energetic little tank.
M is toilet trained, but starting pretty early on, she began wetting her pants. Then she began dropping her pants to pee on the floor. Then messing her pants. Today, she messed on the floor of the bathroom and began 'finger painting' with feces.
Both my oldest, and my niece, have said, "I want to go home." Natural enough, though W's quieted down on that front since her mama arrived. M's regression started while her father was here. (But she's very close to her grandfather back in the UK, maybe that's an issue. I dunno.)
Obviously, things are a bit off in the house at the moment: palpably sad, sometimes too quiet, but not overtly stressed until the past couple of days. My father has been obviously ill since we got back: thin to the point of gaunt, sallow skin, weak. The girls know that Grandpa's sick, that the doctor and nurses sometimes come to visit, and I assume they're stressed by this, but I don't know if that explains M's regression. The girls have been kept busy, and happy, with loads of activity: swimming, games, crafts, cartoons... they seem to love being together, when they're not trying to get the better of one another.
My sister is frustrated to the point of tears and simply doesn't know what to do. It's making an already awful situation that much more stressful and difficult.
We need a solution. Please.
I would also appreciate suggestions on how to give W & M, the grandchildren who are old enough to comprehend some of this, an opportunity to say goodbye to grandpa in a manner suitable to a three year old. Obviously, a traditional funeral service isn't going to mean anything to them. As my father's still with us, and coherent, and dotes on the girls, there may be a chance for them to say goodbye directly. God, that's going to rip him apart worse than this horror show of a disease. What sort of ceremony befits three year olds: Painting "I love you, Grandpa" on a helium balloon and releasing it the backyard?
Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy. - Spider Robinson
Can my tears help? Of course not. Thinking of you and yours, Jeff. You are good people. Dunno what to say about your immediate problem. Just a Scottish hand extended to you.
But the tykes pick up on vibes, as you know already, all too well.
Those vibes are not terribly positive right now, I imagine. My thoughts are with you at what must be a very difficult time. Sorry I can't be of any help.
But I wouldn't think of it as regressing. Its a reaction to stuff she (or he?) simply doesn't understand, isn't it?
Damn, Jeff! You people are in my thoughts, for what its worth.
I'm no expert, but in my heart of hearts, I'm sure this is a reaction to the situation with your grandfather. I have no expert advice, but I know one thing I would do if it were my kid - I'd cuddle them, and hold them, and stroke their backs until I was convinced that they were at peace with the world around them.
I don't think kids that young know how to deal with anxiety, so they express it in ways that might seem strange to us.
Love out to you and your whole family. I'd give you a hug now too, if I could.
Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.
I can't offer any advice but I can offer my thoughts and best wishes to help you through the difficult times.
My heart goes out to you and yours in this tough situation Jaboney. The good thing is, that you are all together to say goodbye to your dad. Prayers and hugs from me.
Work is the curse of the drinking classes- Wilde
Lots of hugs. Lots of cuddles. As many bedtime stories as the old man can stomach. Contact. Let them remember him as the big friendly guy. That will mean more to them (and probably to him, too.)
I understand the reasons that we humans employ ceremony, but, personally, I've never felt a need for them (the ceremonies). I've always made it known to my loved ones, including my boy since he was small, that I have been blessed or otherwise fortunate to have been surrounded by them and to have enjoyed life and their company, and that when my time comes, as it will, I will leave with no regrets and hope that they will continue to live and enjoy life and each other and not mourn my passing but instead celebrate the wonderful life that I lived... I know this is rambling... sorry... I'm not sure how this helps you with the grandkids... but, I'm hoping it will... I guess I'm thinking that the kids don't need any ceremony... they just need to know that Grandpa loves them and was happy to know them and hopes that they live wonderful, joyous lives... and that it was/is Grandpa's time... and that this is normal.
Edit: Yes... what sandman posted above!
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The pooper is 2.5 years old? Is that right?
Slap a diaper on her. Lord knows you all don't need all that shit right now. The slapping and whatnot should be dealt with in the same way it normally is.
All the pictures I've seen from your home there Jabone have been loads of kids doing stuff. Maybe the palpable change in the air and the probable lack of doing fun things is throwing them off, the pooper more severely for some reason.
I have (apparently) an odd view of death here. I don't understand why people celebrate it before it happens. If it were EYE closing in on the light, I'd want to see them kids running around the great outdoors through my window or from my chair. Your Dad has got to be, er, pooped anyway, and maybe he can get a cuddle and tickle session and a story time, either him or you or the best reader there during the day and big hugs and kisses at bedtime. Or try that TV thing. That calms kids down too I hear.
The kids are young and what they will remember about this is fairly small. You adults on the other hand....
Good luck. Hopes it's a better, rosier day up North today.
Na na na na hey hey
Jaboney, I agree with Hannibal here. Get some pull-ups for her to use temporarily; she can still pull them down to use the toilet when she's in control. This is probably due to the stress of the whole situation, so the less stressful the grups can make it for her, the better.
As for ceremony, I think the kids are too young; not only will they not really understand what's happening, but they probably also won't remember it later. I certainly don't have any memories from age 2.5 or 3. Just let them enjoy their time with Grandpa, and he his time with them, as much as possible. Get pics and videos of them together, so that the kids can have those be their memories later, and your balloon idea, once Grandpa is gone, could certainly be part of that. I wouldn't have them say goodbye to him while he's still here. It sounds like that would be too hard on him.
Just make it quality time together, lots of, which it sounds like you're already doing.
And hang in there! All of you are in our thoughts.
You need to get those kids out of the house as much and for as long as possible. At three they are too young for funerals etc. The emotions of the adults are rubbing off onto the kids. It must be terribly stressful. My heart goes out to you all. Get those kids to the playground, stat!
So sorry to learn of this Jaboney. The dads gave good advice, lots and lots of cuddles from Grandpa when he has the energy, and from the rest of you when he doesn't.
How about going through family photos together. They'll probably jog some of your childhood memories and you can share that with your daughter and niece. While you're looking at photos together, maybe consider scanning favorites so both of your families have all those images to enjoy again when you've returned to your homes.
Little ones pick up on stress even when we are outwardly calm. The next time the kids are acting out or melting down, recognize how you're feeling first, then just breathe. You'll be better able to deal with whatever has just taken place (a mess in someone's pants, a mess on the floor, a tantrum, hitting) and more often than not the kids will respond positively. I also like the idea of putting your niece in pullups and not making a big deal at all about the mess. Just be matter of fact about it, oops, let's get you cleaned up. After the trauma of Grandpa being ill, she'll potty train herself again.
One other thought comes to mind. Your niece and older daughter are still learning to recognize and label their emotions, so talk about feelings, read books about feelings, or as you're reading just any book, talk about the emotions the characters might be feeling. And of course, talk about their feelings, and validate them by putting words to them. ("Are you sad/worried about Grandpa?" "It's hard being far from home, isn't it?" "It's frustrating when..." etc) It wasn't until I had child number two that I understood the impact validating feelings could have--I just didn't get it--and it made a huge difference in the behavior of my then 2yo and in my relationships with my two at the time.
My heart goes out to you and your family...
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