Thomas has headed off on a two-sleep stay away with his Dad at his Grandfather’s. He does this once or twice a year. His Dad’s family lives in the same city as mine and while he is down there, plays with his cousins (my niece and nephew) who he loves loves loves are always in the plan.
He was excited this morning to be heading off. And although I always feel weird that he is 3 hours drive away from me – it is easy to get carried along with his excitement. Thou I miss him terribly when he is away – I know he has fun and that it is great that he has lots of people in his life who love him and who are part of his life and who he is.
He loves the ritual off it as he does with all of his Grandparents – he has spent lots of time with them all as he has grown up and has clear expectations of events ‘xx will have chocolate icecream in the fridge’ ‘we will collect shells with yy’ ‘zz and I will go out on the boat and fish’ ‘we will walk the dog” etc etc. These are things he can count on.
I realised this week how much we have talked about and framed his life in ritual – including telling him how many ‘sleeps’ he will be somewhere or one of us will.
Gaye has been a regular traveller in his life going away for work or last year on a holiday with her mum and nephew.
He was really upset when we took her to the airport on Sunday to fly down to see her Dad. Some of this was due to the fact that he had been expecting to go away too, some of it was because she was obviously worried about her Dad – he is old and aware enough to know that sickness can be scary or sad or worrying – but mostly it seemed to me he was upset because we couldn’t tell him exactly how many sleeps she would be away for.
When we woke on Sunday morning the phone rang and I asked him to bring it straight to us – I explained that Gaye’s dad was sick with a heart problem ‘a bit like Grandpa had’, he lay his head down on my chest and said ‘oh no, will he be alright? Will he die?’ I said that it seemed like it would be okay and that he might have to have an operation like Grandpa. And we went over what had happened with Grandpa and how his ‘heart was broken but the drs fixed it’ and that “Grandpa is as young as a teenager now, but he gets a bit tired’
I told him that when someone’s dad was sick it was nice to tell the person that you were sorry that they were sick.
A bit later when I was having a shower he lay on the bed with Gaye and told her he was ‘very sorry her dad was sick and not to worry because they would give him the heart operation and then he could have a another one if that didn’t work and then he could have the cancer operation’
He was cheery enough when Gaye got out of the car, but got very teary after she left (fortunately she saw us sitting in the car and talking and came back and had another cuddle with him and they both had a little cry together which offcourse meant I got teary too) and later he talked to me about how he didn’t like her being away.
I reminded him that he was going away this week to Canberra and so would be away for two sleeps himself and that Gaye would be back by the weekend or we would go down to see her – but he assured me this was completely different!
Later we picked up her 16 year old nephew (Lee) from the plane and brought him home for dinner before putting him on another plane and I was really touched with how he tried to comfort Lee – telling him that his grandfather had had the operation and was now really good but a bit tired and putting on a funny dvd to make him happy.
Over the weekend we have had lots of conversations about Gaye’s Dad – he has drawn him a picture of a golf course with him getting a good shot on it – and when he will get better and the like. I have been able to tell him exactly when she will get home and assure him we will visit her Dad soon. It has been more than interesting and pretty heart-warming to see him process it all.