Saturday, January 2

like watching a train wreck

I took my sister's kids back home today. I love them, but 7 days was enough. My niece got a lot of clothing for christmas, which was nice for her. What isn't nice is that my niece weights 79.2 lbs and is 6 years old, ranking her as obese bordering on morbidly obese. Her pants size is a 12-12.5 plus. For those of you out of the clothing loop, at 6, your pants size should be your age. I did ask my sister if she was worried about my niece's weight and the response was "she grows different than other kids, that's all." Seriously?

My older siser refuses to buy the plus sized children's clothes for her obese child and instead buys regular size clothing and squeezes the kid into them. Nothing fits properly and the kid constantly looks uncomfortable and miserable. I bought her pants from the kid's plus sized section at jenney's for christmas, but they were 6 inches too long because they're meant for someone 5 years older than she is. When faced with the excess leg material my sister said "Just roll it over." At that point, I took a deep breath and tried to behave.

This past week I took the kid to the dry cleaner up the street where a nice woman hemmed all the pants for $20 in a few hours. My older sister insisted that I was stupid for wasting $20 because the kid "grows out before she grows up and they won't fit in a few months." She feels that stapling the pant legs is obviously a better choice. I looked at her and said "She isn't going to grow 6 inches this year you know." I then left the room to get some fresh air.

A little while later I was recounting the week and how I had a lot of problems with the kids eating. My sister overheard me talking to our mother and informed me that it's common for my niece to eat until she pukes and then eat some more. You know, my dog used to eat until she puked if we didn't watch out. We started to do this nifty thing where we made sure she ate a limited amount of food. I'm a parent, and it's pretty easy for me to tell when my kid's had enough food, and she doesn't have to vomit for it to happen. As the adult in the parent-child relationship I get to make all the choices about what we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. It's not rocket sceince at all.

I know they're my sister's kids, but it just seems like bullshit that I'm supposed to stfu while her kid's developing an eating disorder and she's too much of a dumbass to care because she's their mother and we can't judge how someone else choose to parent. The fact is, you don't have to be the best parent in the world to point out when someone isn't overly great at it. Part of me really wants to point out that watching daddy beat mommy or attempt to stab her, or thinking that mommy's nickname is "that dumb whore" isn't healthy for the kids and could maybe be why the kid feels the need to eat until she pukes. The sane part of me knows that if I say that, I'll never see the kids again.


Jenny Robin said...

That is a detestable situation for those poor kids. I'm glad they have a good Auntie like you to show them what a loving and safe environment can be like.

It sounds like you're choosing your battles wisely. Best of luck to you.

Mrs. Tree said...

You're going to be that one special person that those kids think of when they need help or love. I grew up in a pretty volatile house, but we always had our extended family lurking in the background, ready to help out when we needed them. It does make a big difference.

UrbanStarGazer said...

That's a tough situation. I truly feel for you.

I had a similar situation when my nieces and nephews were younger -- where I felt I had a choice in front of me of saying something and risk not seeing them or not say something and try to do what I could to mitigate the damage being heaped on by their family situation. It's a tough choice and there's no right or wrong, only what you feel comfortable with.

I chose to say something. Not only did I say something but I had a court force them into counselling. I didn't speak to that sibling for years afterward and was cut off from their kids for a shorter period as well but I was okay with that feeling that I did everything I could to help.

The bottom line for me was knowing that no matter how good an aunt I was to them, their parents still contributed 85% of the influence on their lives. Also, I felt that not saying something and trying to provide a good example or an outlet for them wasn't ever going to be enough to make any major contribution or change and by not doing something I was contributing to the bad things.

But, it was a tough choice and everyone is different. In the long run, I think what I did was worth it because the counselling forced my sibling to have to deal with the issue -- they were ignoring it and letting an emotionally and verbally abusive step parent run amok -- and provided my niece and nephew some relief.

Good luck.

Beanns37 said...

Jilly, I think Urbles is right in that this is a choice you have to make and it's a darn hard one. But I will say that I wish I had done more to prevent my niece from ending up the way she did (too much like my brother). If I had it to do over again I would have tried to get custody when she was younger and hadn't developed the problems she now has. But again, only you can decide what's best for you and your family. I'll be thinking good thoughts for your niece and nephew.