Monday, September 24, 2007

Swimming! And More Family Woes

Went swimming today with Hazel, Romy and Tansy, which was fun, if cold. Emily had a bit of a major breakthrough and is now swimming. I think I've said that before, but it must have been a false alarm back then. Today she swam several "widths" of the baby pool, though, so I think she's finally cracked it :-))

**Considering this is supposed to be a home education blog, there seems to be rather a lot of me moaning about family situations on here. However, I have to let off steam somewhere...and there isn't anywhere else. Readers only interested in anything vaguely home ed have permission to skip the rest of this post ;-) **

Haven't achieved much else today, other than taking Grandad to his podiatrist appointment. One which he asked to have made, but then duly pronounded the traditional "waste of time" (whose??? not his...) having had it. Tomorrow one of his grown up grandchildren is coming for a rare visit, so I daresay that will cheer him up - for as long as it lasts and not one second longer. Then on Wednesday we get to take him to the dentist, which is another of the nagged-for but then pronounced waste of time efforts, usually. And I'm in trouble for not having already rung the hospital in Hull to confirm his next admission a week on Thursday. Silly me, thought I had plenty of time to do it, but no, it's on the "want it done now" list.

I'm really not sure where we're going with the problems with Jon's dad. To be honest, things just can't continue like this for much longer. The stress is making Jon physically ill. He's been on anti-depressants for a couple of years now, directly because of the effect his father has on him and on his self-esteem, but it's getting worse. Poor Jon now actively avoids even bumping into his dad around the house, because when he accidentally does all he gets is a mouthful of abuse. I am so itching to speak my mind, but it's really not my place to rock the boat and I know Jon's caught between a rock and a hard place - carry on putting up with the atrocious way he's treated, or speak out and risk even worse plus all the guilt he'd be made to feel for upsetting dear Grandad.

I don't know what to do, but the seething resentment I'm feeling isn't going to go away and frankly it's ruining whatever kind of relationship I did once have with my father in law. I know it must be very hard for him being so dependent on others - but all we're asking for is a thank you here, a kind word there, a bit of emotional and moral give and take from him as you might expect from a supposedly loving family member; instead he goes out of his way to destroy Jonathan emotionally and has become demanding beyond all reasonable thought. It's just the little things that mount up. The tantrum he throws if Jon hasn't been out and got his newspaper for him by 9am - any later than that and he has a paddy - he won't have it delivered, of course. The way he behaves every Friday without fail when Jon gets back from having done his shopping - it's never early enough, he's never got the right things (without a list), he's always got something wrong, not got this, shouldn't have got that, put it in the wrong place, bought something too expensive, something too cheap, something the wrong brand. And thank you just isn't in his vocabulary.

Worse of all, though, is the effect I suspect all this is beginning to have on Emily. At the back of our minds, I guess we'd kind of thought, well, at least we're setting a reasonable example for Emily, in trying to love and take care of a family member no matter how difficult they become. Someone pointed out to me the other day, though, affectionately in a trying-to-help way, that things have now become so extreme that we're actually giving Emily a very different model to follow: the example that it's OK for someone to treat you like this, that it's OK for Jon to suffer the abuse he does, that her and our needs and wants aren't worth enough to be top of the list, that being a doormat is good, that being remotely assertive is bad, that Mummy, and Daddy in particular, must be lazy and useless because we're constantly told so, and so she probably is too. I was totally shocked when she said this, as I really hadn't thought of it that way, but it touched such a nerve that I started crying on the spot.

The thing is, my friend may have a point. Very recently we've noticed and been concerned that Emily's self-esteem has taken a real plunge. She's started constantly berating herself for being "rubbish" at everything. Even today at swimming she wasn't delighted with herself - she just kept pointing out that she's not swimming "properly" because she's doing it in the baby pool. She's not remotely proud of what she's achieved, she just thinks it's not good enough. Now I can't blame Grandad entirely for that, but I am beginning to wonder. Jon's self-esteem is so low that it must be having an effect on Emily, however - and I can and most certainly do blame his father directly for that. I don't see where else Emily's worrying attitude can have come from since we do nothing but praise, build her up and encourage her throughout. We'd never dream of telling her she's not good enough at anything. Ever. So where's she getting that idea from?

Emily's relationship with Grandad is deteriorating too. He talks over her most of the time, even when we're sitting down for a family meal. Bless her heart, she tries to be polite and stops what she's saying when he starts speaking. I, however, having had more than enough of that, now usually ask Grandad to hold on a moment and pointedly ask Emily what it was that she had been trying to say. He doesn't get the message, but I wonder if she *is* getting a message - and not a good one - from being talked over. When Grandad does vaguely pay attention to what she says to him, he then complains he can't hear and has to ask us to repeat it. He can hear just fine when he wants to. So now what, my daughter doesn't speak clearly enough? Or what she has to say just isn't interesting enough to hold his attention?

Anyway, ranting on here doesn't change anything, obviously, although it does make me feel slightly better to get my thoughts down "on paper" every so often. We're getting to the point where we may have to try to involve social services with Grandad somehow. I don't know how, exactly, since I suspect they're not interested because they assume he has all the care and help he requires. I don't know that they could do for us, but we can't carry on like this. I imagine they'd just suggest sheltered accommodation, though - which is out of the question a) because Grandad would never agree to it (although at least the suggestion might make him wake up and realise how flippin' lucky he actually is) and b) because Jon could never live with the guilt that would induce. I don't know. Do they have a department in social services for the care and feeding of unreasonably difficult family members? Time to find out.


Hazel said...

((((((HUGS)))))) To you, Jon and Emily. Emily you did fantastically at swimming today!! I was really impressed :o)

Nikki said...

Thanks, Hazel; I really appreciate your support :-)

seoirse_ouse said...

Families can be really difficult, particulary with one member who is very difficult to please. I hope you find someone to help you share the burden in caring for your father in law. It sounds like yourself and your husband have nothing to feel guilty about.

Ultimately, we are not reponsible for anothers happiness. Making sure they have a safe place to stay and are cared for (as best you can) is all that you can do.

I really hope a solution that helps everyone concerned can be reached.

Jax said...

many social services will offer respite services, though whether for just difficulty rather than defined medical needs I'm not sure. It's worth getting them involved though - or you could speak to your CAB and see if there is anything voluntary in your area?

HelenHaricot said...

Hugs. I think that actually You and Jon can change somethings hopefully, and talking to social services would help.
But I think perhaps, although extremely difficult, when he is being awful/downputting, just walking away saying, I don't have to put up with this, we help because we care. Or, no, I am ringing next monday or whatever, so that he rarely gets what he wants unless it is reasonable. Hideously awkward and difficult to do, but it sounds like perhaps might show Emily that you can be empowered under difficult circumstances.
More Hugs

Liza said...

well done Emily!! i never learned to swim, but i am quite good at almost drowning and being rescued by nice lifeguards :blush:

hugs to you all. it sounds like you are all living in a horrible situation at the moment. you say jon could never live with the guilt of sending him away but did you tell him what your friend said about how it is affecting emily? can he live with the guilt of putting his daughter through that? i dont mean that to sound nasty, just that maybe you need to point out bluntly to jon that as much as you do all want to help his dad, it is is affecting the whole family and not in a good way.

I do also agree with the above comment. i think showing him that you will not put up with his obnoxious behaviour may make him realise how awful he is being.


Nikki said...

Thank you all for your kind words, support and suggestions. Liza, yes, Jon is well aware of how the situation may be affecting Emily, and the whole situation tears him to pieces. Whatever we do will however have to wait a while, since it looks like Grandad may be heading for a (second) heart bypass if they're unable on the 2nd attempt to do his angioplasty next week. Obviously, in the light of that, we'll have to hold off any kind of major decision until he's fit and well again. Re dealing with his behaviour by showing we won't put up with it - I entirely principle. In practice, however, any time someone says something like that to him he goes into a major "poor me, nobody loves me" type sulk and life gets even worse for a week or two. It's emotional blackmail, tbh. It doesn't look like social services can do anything for us, since we don't qualify as carers, apparently, but I will look into Jax's suggestion via the CAB and see what they say. Thanks all again.