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Need some perspective

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#1 NunSoFeral

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:01 PM

As per title , I'm needing some perspective.

The facts

My 76 year old inter-state MIL wishes to take my (just) 8 year son on a three night stay five hours away to visit her friend’s farm. She will be towing her caravan. She will also be taking my 13 yr old nephew. MIL visits us two or three times a year and my son has met my nephew twice several years ago. Both of these times started well but ended in both son and nephew getting upset and frustrated with a fair bit of aggro on both sides. Being larger and faster my nephew was able to get a few good whacks in before they were separated .My son (just as responsible) was just slower to physically react (has his mothers’ reflexes). My nephew does have a history with aggressive behaviour and due to this, has been removed from several schools, most recently for throwing a desk at his support person – he is quite big and strong.  My boy is an incessant talker and can be annoying. Really annoying. MIL has Meniere’s disease which hits her suddenly and causes some wooziness and nausea, lost her close sister two weeks ago is still distraught, and also was hospitalised a month ago for a non-specific cardiac episode. Allegedly “something” was happening at the time, but testing found no evidence of infarction, blockages, etc.

It’s a huge and lovely gesture to offer to take my oldest boy on an adventure, and I wish I could say yes with no reservation; however there are several concerns I have.

I’m worried about MIL - her health and her capacity to deal with driving, towing a caravan and coping with the boys. Possibly all at the same time.  I mean it would knacker me, and I think it will wipe her out.
I’m also worried about the interaction between my nephew and my boy given their squabble-y history, and the discrepancy in ages and maturity.
Further, my son doesn’t possess a strong sense of judgement or decision making skills. I am worried about the several hours per day when they will be affectively “unattended”.

On the other hand, I’m thinking what a great opportunity for him to develop a stronger relationship with his grandmother and his cousin, to foster an appreciation for how other people live and work – and it’s a farm! Also, maybe being away from us would allow him to start developing a sense of autonomy and judgement.

My first idea was to take our three younger children and we would go up that way as well –staying somewhere nearby, just sort of being close if needed. But we are self-employed and had already organised/prepaid a four day mini-break several days after this proposed trip, so we have no extra time available.  

I’m torn. One hand I feel like he will probably have an ace time and all will be well. But when I start listing my worries the deck starts looking stacked in a negative way. These concerns are also out of hands so to speak. I can't  see  how I can remedy them or pre-emp their effects  in any way.

DP shares these concerns as well. He also believes that if there is any doubt as to our sons’ safety then there is no doubt – we should politely decline.

I’m probably overthinking it, but would appreciate some perspective.
Am we being precious and chicken-little-ish?
Or is there reasonable justification for being worried to the point of declining the invitation?

#2 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:02 PM

I'd be really concerned about your MIL's ability to cope with both boys.  It would be a no from me.

#3 HurryUpAlready

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:08 PM

The health concerns would bother me OP. Driving, towing a van and "wooziness" don't go do well together, I'd imagine.

#4 SplashingRainbows

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:10 PM

It would be a no from me. Farms are not the place for unsupervised children who have not grown up on the farm, with all the knowledge of farming dangers and safety that entails.

I would also be worried about your mils ability to cope. I personally think one child is all I'd be comfortable letting travel with grandma.

Having said that, I have farmers in my extended family and i know they would be all over the potential issues - both with farm safety, capabilities and behaviour expectations/management. In my family they would work as a team to supervise the children appropriately and I would have no hesitation leaving a child of that age in the arrangement. However all those things would be addressed in the open before any plans were made.

Perhaps that is a possibility if you could drive him there and back?

#5 marnie27

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:13 PM

I am usually on the side of "it will be fine" and I let my in laws take my then 15 month old DS interstate for four days without hesitation - but I would say no to this scenario. Wooziness and towing a caravan 5 hours with potentially squabbling children distracting her? No way.

#6 EsmeLennox

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:15 PM

I would say no on the basis of the health issue. Could you possibly arrange to take your son yourself and collect him?

#7 Not Escapin Xmas

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:17 PM

Big fat no from me too. What if something happened? Ie your MIL crashing or the boys getting into a serious fight. I think you need someone else driving (you maybe?) and maybe with a different cousin or friend before you can consider saying yes.

#8 Cath42

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:23 PM

It sounds as though your mother-in-law is feeling the need to spend some time with her grandsons, and I agree that it would be good for the boys to spend a bit of (supervised) time together as well. I don't think you're being unreasonable having reservations about your mother-in-law driving on her own for 5 hours while towing a caravan. If someone could accompany her and the boys on the trip, that would solve the problem. Is it possible for either you or your husband to take half a week off work and go too? I don't know what kind of work you do, but could one hold the fort while the other goes on the trip? Or would your mother-in-law be amenable to going another time, when it is possible for either you or your husband to get away from work?

#9 cinnabubble

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:25 PM

Oh hell no.

#10 MadnessCraves

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:26 PM

No from me, due to MILs health could affect her driving.

#11 Lyra

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:32 PM

I'm also in the 'no' camp and I am by no means a helicopter parent

#12 JingleJangle

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:34 PM

I would be saying no, due to the MIL's health issues.

#13 babychacha

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:37 PM

Its a no for me.

#14 epl0822

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:39 PM

No way.

I would suggest a family trip, ie you and DP as well, if your MIL really wanted some time away from the kids (assuming that a family trip in the near horizon is a time and money feasible option).

Don't be afraid to tactfully explain why you're saying no.

#15 JillyJellyBean

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:40 PM

I would be looking for some kind of compromise.

#16 LynnyP

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:43 PM

An old potentially ill woman towing a caravan with two potentially fighting boys in the back is enough for it to be a complete no from me.  I would drive my son to the farm and pick him up.  Actually, I would offer to tow the van and have my husband drive up and drive me back.

Edited by LynnyP, 16 December 2012 - 05:44 PM.

#17 FlutterbyBlue

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:45 PM

As someone who has, in the past, had something similar to Menieres Disease, I say heck NO!!  Your MIL should not be driving at all, never mind for long periods of time.

Also, given the relationship between your son and your MIL and nephew, as outlined by your OP, why would you send him anyway?  He doesn't know your MIL very well and the nephew bullied him, consistently and repeatedly, a 5 hour road trip would potentially be absolutely dreadful for him.

#18 Heather11

Posted 16 December 2012 - 05:51 PM

A no from me too.  My parents are around that age and have been doing long distance caravan trips for 50+ years.  However if either of them wanted to take my children by themselves it would be a no.  I would expect two adults to be present.  

Depending on where they are heading they may not see a lot of traffic and what happens if they get a flat tyre?  Are they in phone range all the way?

I also have a relative with Menieres and she doesn't like driving long distances.

#19 NunSoFeral

Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:37 PM

Thank you all for taking the time to reply - it is very much appreciated.

Unfortunately we are not in a position for either/both of us to take extra time off, or drive him/them up. Also , MIL will be travelling with nephew from Sydney with caravan up here to brisbane - and I don't think she would take kindly to an offer for someone else to drive up to the farm. She is a bit proud in that sense.

MIL's Meniere's disease is not at the acute or chronic level, but the frequency of attacks has been increasing.

We are unacquainted with the owners of the farm, so have no idea of the farm set up, safety management, etc. Farm owners are both in their 60's and there are no children on the farm.

We are thinking to decline and then propose they stay here for a few days on the way to the farm or another time for them to come and stay and do small day trips from here to various places - using PT or us driving, etc.

Thanks again.

Edited by gettheetoanunnery, 16 December 2012 - 06:38 PM.

#20 mommyoffour

Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:45 PM

If you really want him to go, could you ask MIL to break the driving half way and stop off at a caravan park overnight? So 2.5hr x 2 each way?
I'd be inclined to say no, but you're right, it could be a great adventure!

#21 Jjbeanz

Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:01 PM

Sadly I'd have to say no

#22 Lostmyway

Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:07 PM

Stay strong OP and stick to a big fat NO. I wouldn't let my DS go that far with my 63 year old mother towing a caravan and she doesn't have the health issues your MIL has.

You're MIL shouldn't be driving long distances let alone towing a caravan.

#23 Therese

Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:08 PM

I would also say no.

#24 Tammy Swanson

Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:16 PM

I am another no and I would say something to her about driving and towing a caravan with her condition. she could kill somebody.

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