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Old 10-26-2006, 10:10 AM   #1  
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Default Entirely off topic but I need advice: Death

My 8 year old daughter has a friend who has just lost her mother. This has upset me so much and I don't even know the family. The little girl has been in my daughters class now for 3 years but they have never played together despite my daughters insistence on trying to get me to take her over there. I have alot of guilt over this, mostly because I listened and believed my daughters 1rst grade teacher last year when she told me this family was weird. Now I wonder what she thought of my family. And why on earth did I let this comment alter my own thought process?
Anyways, yesterday when I dropped my daughter off at school I saw her friends father walking her to school. He was holding her hand and the hand of a small little boy in his other hand. I was in tears. I didn't know this family had little ones. Last night my older daughter, who has one of the older kids in her 8th grade class, told me the family has 5 children. 5 motherless children.
I so want to offer my help to this family. I just don't know what I can or should do since I am a stranger to all but the little girl. Would it be impolite of me to ask if the little girl can come over for a sleepover and maybe to go shopping with my daughter and I? And if that is ok, should I put some time between now and then? I'm sorry this is so long......this just really bothers me. I can't believe what a shallow person I have been.
Another thing that has really been on my mind now, I am always worried about how my own kids would fare if I died tomorrow. This may have more to do with my 42nd birthday next week than anything but its got me really thinking about mortality and life. Why can't we just be carefree and not worry about everything all the time???

Any advice, positive or negative, is appreciated. Thanks

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Old 10-26-2006, 10:27 AM   #2  
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I think it would be a very nice gesture to maybe drop off something nice for dinner one night - even just a frozen lasagna and a bag of mixed salad from the store. That way you could maybe get a feel for the father, and also ask if it would be ok to have the daughter over for a sleepover. If you're up for it, and another 1 or 2 of the children are in the same basic age range, ask if they can come too. It would give this man a break for sure, and the kids could maybe get their minds off things for a while.

But, I'd also say that you need to realize that you might end up making a trip back over to the house at 2am, if the kids can't handle it yet. But, it's amazing what kids can handle, and honestly, they might be ready for a break from dad for a few hours too.

And, if he says he doesn't think it's a good idea just yet, make sure he's aware that a rain check on the whole event is available.

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Old 10-26-2006, 10:43 AM   #3  
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I would call the man and invite the daughter over for a sleepover. While you have him on the phone, offer condolences for his loss, and make an offer of anything else you think you might be able to do to help (babysit all his kids for a while maybe, so he can have a break). Don't just make a vague offer like "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help." Make it specific, so he knows you aren't just being polite. If he agrees to the sleepover, when you bring the child back in the morning, take the opportunity to drop off a casserole or something. If you can get the kids to help you make it the night before, so much the better. It won't seem so much like charity to him if it's partly his daughter's handiwork.

Also, perhaps you can talk to the teacher and the two of you can figure out some kind of fundraiser or other activity that the whole class can participate in to help the family.
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Old 10-26-2006, 11:51 AM   #4  
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Thank you for such great ideas! I can't remember the last time something has been on my mind for so long.

I thought about the idea of a fundraiser, but, then I began to worry about how the father would feel about "charity". I mean, I do not know the financial circumstances of this family. My husband met him at a field trip last month and knows he's a truck driver but didn't really get any details.....men just aren't as nosy I guess. But then again, Christmas is coming up...maybe we could do something. I think I will contact my little girls teacher later. She may have better ideas than I.
Once again thank you! I know this probably isn't my business but I just can't stop thinking about it.
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Old 10-26-2006, 03:19 PM   #5  
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I hear you. I snapped at my kids this am and then I noticed my oldest daughter wearing a pink ribbon pinned to her sweatshirt. Her team is wearing them to honor the mother of another student who is dying of breast cancer and in a coma.

Life is so fleeting...

It is a good reminder to us all to not judge, to always have a kind word for others.

I agree with taking a meal. Offer to watch the small ones. Can you imagine raising 5 kids? While being a truck driver? I don't know how he will possibly manage. Organize food baskets, Christmas gifts. Do it quietly and anonymously so that this family does not feel pitied, but that they have the sympathy and support of your community. I agree with the other posters and with you talking to the teacher.

Hugs to you.
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Old 10-26-2006, 03:41 PM   #6  
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Oh my gosh that is so heartbreaking! I have 5 kids myself and just recently lost my mom 2 x~mas' ago. That is one thing I want to make sure of is that I am there for them. Not just to raise them but to be there til I am a lil old lady! I can't imagine how hard it must be losing a mom as a child. That would of been even more devastating. Even now I am a bit jaded about it. I feel like an orphan in a way and I am 31!!!

If I were you I would encourage the friendship. I would try taking the girl under your wing a bit. All those kids man! That makes me sad!!! If I came into contact with second hand clothes etc, I would definately pass them on. Maybe around x~mas time, (if you can afford to) maybe get something for each of them or bake them some home made goodies. I don't know if you work or stay at home so it would all depend.
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Old 10-26-2006, 04:38 PM   #7  
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I can't believe a teacher would say "oh, they're weird". That seems odd.

I like fiddler's suggestion of being very specific on what you can offer, rather than "if there's anything I can do ..."

My DS's neighbor (at his dad's house) was 8 years old when his father died. My son was probably 12 at the time, and knew the kid wanted one of those "razor" scooters. DS had a razor scooter that he had outgrown, and gave it to the boy. It was entirely his idea and I was glad he found a way to show compassion. I found out about this after it happened, but I decided that the next time a similar situation arises, I'm going to ask him what he thinks the family could use. Maybe your daughter has some ideas on what she thinks might comfort them?
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Old 10-26-2006, 11:44 PM   #8  
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All these suggestions are really great, thank you very much!

I'm not sure why the teacher thought that, I think maybe because she felt they were underneath her as far as on the economic level. But my goodness, 5 children doesn't leave much left over for all the expensive things that others can afford. And quite frankly, I've been a stay at home mother for 5 years up until about 3 months ago and we couldn't afford much in the way of extras ourselves. Now I just work part time nights while my son is in kindergarten just so we can go out once in a while.
I think I will send an email to her teacher and see if she has any ideas.

As a footnote, I found out that the oldest 3 boys have a biological father and may be moving to Texas. I find this sad to split the family but what can you do. It would be the same situation here if something happened to me because my 14 year old daughter would move in with her dad in a heartbeat if she thought I wouldn't fight it (He indulges her every whim).

I will definitely ask my daughter, she's only 7 (almost 8) but quite a caring little thing. She would probably be able to find out what they need.
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Old 10-27-2006, 10:46 AM   #9  
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TamiL, I can tell that this tragedy has left you with some guilt, and it's brought up a lot of issues for you about your children and what if you would die. But please don't let guilt motivate you into swinging to the other extreme and getting overly involved in this family. It might come off as insincere. I mean this kindly--I think it's wonderful for you to want to show compassion for others. But think what it might look like from their side. They were "too weird" for ordinary neighborliness, and now suddenly people they don't know are calling them up and wanting to do things. I'm not saying that you shouldn't make these caring gestures--just keep some perspective on it.

For what it's worth--

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Old 10-27-2006, 11:56 AM   #10  
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If I were you I would encourage the friendship. I would try taking the girl under your wing a bit.
I completely agree. The girl is still young but in a few years she'll be getting to the point where she'll have some "womanly" things she would probably like to talk to a trusted woman about rather than her father.
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Old 10-29-2006, 03:04 AM   #11  
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Originally Posted by Tisha___ View Post
I think it would be a very nice gesture to maybe drop off something nice for dinner one night - even just a frozen lasagna and a bag of mixed salad from the store.
THat might come across the wrong way. He might think that you are implying that he cant cope and that he cant look after his kids. In times like these you really need to tread carefully.
It wasnt so long ago that my uncle went, and none of us knew what to say right or wrong!
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Old 10-29-2006, 09:39 PM   #12  
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A lot of good advice. I'm sure the dad can use all the help he can get, especially a break if you can somehow pull that off for him at some point.

I also want to add that the teacher telling you the family was weird was COMPLETELY INNAPPROPRIATE and she should be reprimanded or sent to a sensitivity class at the very least for gossiping, about her students much less. That is absolutely atrocious of her. It's hard to imagine, but what would you feel if you were on the other side of that teacher's gossip? Unreal.

Anyway, you have a big heart, go ahead and use it. All he can say is no.
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