This household has had a hell of a week. Not-so-dear hubbie had been complaining for a month of pains in his leg. He had even mentioned it to the oncologist who (wrongly) thought that it was not cancer related and told hubbie to go see his GP. Rosie finally got him to go to the GP, but by then he was in acute pain (probably on pair with childbirth, but that's another story). GP is going to send him for an X-ray but while waiting for a wheelchair in her office, he ended up in unimaginable pain. Oops- trip to the Emergency Room instead for pain meds and X-ray there. Turns out that there are 2 tumors growing in the leg and one them broke the bone and he needs to have surgery as soon as possible.
Okay, but how do I tell the kids? And how much do I tell them? I'm especially concerned about telling Abe (18 yo) who is a residential school and has PDD and accompanying emotional issues, and other things. Rosie is Daddy's little girl at 15.
Hubbie says that he is going to call Rosie and tell her- but I ask him to wait until I'm home, or at least almost home. But when I walk in the door, it's pretty clear that he had NOT called her. So, I become Sgt. Joe Friday (just the facts, ma'am) and tell her just the facts.
"I want to go to the hospital now". I had expected this and planned on it, so we gathered some things together and went into town to see him. Rosie was much better after having seen him, but he was in so much pain that it was scary for her. She announced that she was sleeping with me in bed that night (okay by me) but I haven't gotten her back into her bed since then!
The next day, Rosie- without ANY prodding or even mentioning it- went to her guidance counselor because she was having a rough day at school. The guidance counselor helped her a lot and told Rose that she'd talk to Rose's teachers and that the teachers would cut her some slack on home work and assignment due dates. Since Rosie is very much her mother's daughter, and is very hard on herself about getting work done, this was just what she needed to hear.
Informing Abe, on the other hand, is a much more delicate proposition. So while hubbie was in the ER, I called his school therapist and ask how I should break the news to him. It was previously planned that Abe was coming home this weekend, anyway, luckily. We decide that a call the next morning, with Abe and his therapist at one end, would be the way.
I worked up a script that moved through the facts and told him that his Dad had his cell phone with him and that Abe could call and talk to him. Turns out that he had a rough day and he availed himself of some of the supports around him. Perfect.
When I had both kids together for Shabbat dinner, I told them the news from the surgery (worser and worser) and then we went to visit Dad in the hospital. Rosie is all hugs when we are there, but once Abe has re-assured himself that Dad is in reasonable shape, he stuck his nose back into his book. But the next morning at synagogue, the instant he walks through the door, he starts telling people about his dad.
Two different kids, two different approaches, two different attitudes.