Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why my kids should not be around the grieving

My dad is in the hospital only it’s not a real hospital it’s a hospice center. I had never heard the word Hospice until recently. It reminds me of a spice, like I should be asking for someone to please pass me the hospice. It’s actually a hospital for the dying. Everyone there is one second away from croaking. My dad is in way better shape then any of them. He was having a hard time swallowing his food so his nurses suggested the hospice center for a few days so that he can be surrounded by doctors while he stabilizes.

The first day I showed up to visit, my mom cleary told me that they were in room 104. Leave it to my mom to give us the wrong room number! Although the door to room 104 was closed, Amelia and I loudly made our entrance only to find the oldest woman I have ever seen snoozing rather loudly in what I had thought was my dad’s bed. “Is that a person?’ Amelia asked in a very terrified voice.

Amelia has become very obsessed with the old patients at the hospice center. None of them come out of their rooms but often their doors are left open and she likes to peek in, point, and yell loudly about how old they are. It’s like she is playing slug bug, but instead of yelling slug bug she screams “Another old man, or look at that Old lady.” I have pulled her aside more then once to comment on her rudeness. I am starting to worry that she has a mild case of tourettes.

There is a really cute playground and walk way that wraps around the building. There ia breathtaking view of the city and lots of colorful flowers. Amelia spends a lot of time at the playground on the tire swing located just outside my dad’s room. Often Amelia sees the spouses of the dying patients walking around the beautiful grounds near the playground. Loudly she will yell “look at that old person mommy.” “Look mommy that one has a cane!” She acts as if they are the colorful mechanically characters on the stage at chuck e cheese there for the sole purpose to wow her with their oldness. She gets such a kick out of the existence of the elderly!

There is a large open community area that the kids like to hang out in, last night I made a big dinner and the kids ate it in the community room. Per Amelia’s request I placed her plate on the small round table near her favorite pink chair. She sat and ate happily until she got up to use the bathroom. When she came back a very distraught woman had taken her seat and was sobbing on her cell phone to someone. Amelia situated herself in front of the poor woman and started pointing at her “look mama, she stole my seat.” “That lady right there stole my seat.” I am afraid my daughter has absolutely zero social grace!

There is always someone crying in the community room, there are groups of sobbing families clutching onto each other. My kids stare at them. They find it fascinating. I am not a crier. I cannot think of a single moment that I have cried in front of my kids. I think this display of emotion terrifies and perplexes them. They become highly uncomfortable and fidgety when confronted with criers. Amelia always wants to know how they hurt themselves. “Did they get a boo boo? Or my favorite “do they need to see the doctor.” When I explain that they are crying because they are sad Amelia always says “oh, they just need hugs.” “hugs will stop the crying.” I love how very simple everything is to Amelia.

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