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Grandchild distressed when I leave

(41 Posts)
GagaJo Tue 25-Feb-20 19:02:14

I've been my grandson's 'significant other' for all of his life (1 1/2 years). He doesn't see his dad and has always lived with his mum and me.

The problem is, I have recently moved to work away and am only able to go back to see him about every six weeks. Last time I was there we had a fantastic week.

However, after I left he was inconsolable. He cried for most of 2 days. Wouldn't eat or sleep. Things calmed down a little after that although he was distressed with his sleep pattern disrupted for about a week.

I hate knowing this. One of the reasons I left (other than needing a new job) was because his mum and I can't live together peacefully.

He's too little to explain things to. Help?

NfkDumpling Tue 25-Feb-20 19:06:51

You’re a really big part of his life so he will miss you terribly. And six weeks is a very long time for a little one. Can you go back for a weekend more often say weekly for a couple of weeks, then fortnightly for a while so he learns that you’ve not gone forever?

lemongrove Tue 25-Feb-20 19:23:48

I had a similar situation Gaga years ago, and felt so terribly guilty and upset ( because he was upset) that after a while had to return ( not easy, and house sale needed and new house to be found.)However, it had to be done, I needed to be back in his life for him.
Only you know if this is possible or not for yourself. Could you live near but not actually live with your DD?
If not a possibility, then how about Skype every evening, and a visit whenever you can? Good luck, as it can really be upsetting for both of you.

GagaJo Tue 25-Feb-20 19:38:58

I can't really, because as an old teacher, I can't find work in the UK. And as I need to help support them, it's essential I work. Also to save for my retirement, because currently I can't retire until 67.

I'm miserable not seeing him too, but I'm an adult and understand the situation.

At the job I'm in now, I thought I'd negotiated a deal which enabled them to live with me overseas, only to find my employer had been less than honest with me.

We are Skyping and I think that helps him a bit. I just hate making him suffer.

Dillonsgranma Wed 26-Feb-20 10:04:49

I used to have this with my little grandson 😢. Wept when I left to go home. I used to phone him and he used to wail where are you Nanny? Broke my heArt

Justanotherwannabe Wed 26-Feb-20 10:10:40

We facetime a lot and my GS recognises me over the phone. That might help you? Skype works as well, or whatsapp video.

jaylucy Wed 26-Feb-20 10:15:22

Well of course he gets upset!
At his age he doesn't understand that once he says bye bye , that you can and will return. He would do the same if his mother left him for any length of time as you have obviously been an equally big part in his life.
He will learn, don't worry. The fact that you can skype and he can see that you haven't just disappeared completely will help. I would guess that the only alternative would be for your daughter to move back over here.

trisher Wed 26-Feb-20 10:19:32

Gagajo I seem to remember when my GCs were in nursery a staff member telling me this is the worst age for having attachment anxiety. She said it is a phase they get through but while they are going through it it is a nightmare for the adults involved. One solution might be to have a soft toy which you keep with you as close as possible before and during your visit and leave with him when you go. It will smell of you and smell often gives a measure of comfort particularly at bed time. I'm sure he will grow out of it and will be happier it just takes time. Well done for keeping him and his mum safe and happy.

4allweknow Wed 26-Feb-20 10:29:03

Had a similar situation when GS born in that I visited once a month for a week until he was 18 months old. When I was there I basically did everything with him, initially trying to bond so he would knoww who I was. At 15 months he was so upset when I left, took a couple of days to get him settled again. I decided I would schedule visits with a longer gap between so his memory would 'fade' a bit more. Seemed to work as I visited every couple of months and all was fine. I do remember sitting in the airport having to hold back tears at the thought of him being so upset when I left. Heart wrenching.

Saggi Wed 26-Feb-20 10:31:46

I looked after my grandchildren heck of a lot when they were little .... my grandson was always a little weepy when he left my house to go home..... his sister who I had much more than him was nonchalant about the whole business of who was looking after her. We have a very close relationship now , though it will never be on a par with her older brother. Your little one will ‘get over’ his upset soon.... they forget a lot at that age. But will you get over it so quickly. Like other posters, could you possibly see him a little more often. Good luck.

PJN1952 Wed 26-Feb-20 10:47:40

My first grandson and I were close when he was little as he lived within an hours drive. When my daughter was pregnant with number 2 I had my GS to stay overnight, often once a week. It was lovely fun but he always cried on return home, especially when the new baby came. My daughter called it a Post Nana Grump and it just had to be got through....the other grandchildren didn’t seem to suffer.

blondenana Wed 26-Feb-20 10:52:55

I used to have this with one of my grandsons, as a baby/toddler.he used to go to the window and cry for me when i left,i often went back to bring him home with me, luckily only lived about 20 minutes away,
When he was older he said when i'm 16 i'm coming to live with you,and he did,we are still closer than any of the others

May7 Wed 26-Feb-20 11:02:38

Feel sad for you Gagajo
When my youngest went to school (realise this isnt the same situation at all ) I used to spray my perfume on a handkerchief and put it in her pocket.
When she felt upset she would sniff on it to remind her that I was around. Smells are very powerful to us all anyway it worked for her. My GCs are away from us and we Facetime on ipad very regularly.Thanks to the Internet flowers

Annaram1 Wed 26-Feb-20 11:21:07

Oh dear! I used to look after my little grandson a lot once his mum went back to work. I always remember hearing him wail as I left for home one day "Grandma! Grandma!" I could hear him all the way down the street! Actually my son told me later that my daughter in law was most upset and thought I had replaced her in my grandson's affections.

jura2 Wed 26-Feb-20 11:28:13

Only just seen this - it's hard for you and them, for sure.

Family reunification only applies to young children- but not adult child and grand child. Did the school tell you you could bring adult + GC?

And this is he nature of things- adult daughters can rarely live in peace with mum and vice-versa. I love mine with all my heart- but could not live with either for more than a few months. When DD" returned from abroad- running from a controlling and violent freak- we had a fabulous time for the 4 months she was here- but we both knew it could not last forever. Normal - nature.

Thanks goodness you can be at the airport in a couple of hours than short, cheap flight to UK- and vice-versa for your daughter. She can of course come for 3 months anytime, and look for work here- as UK has signed agreement with CH.

You did mention you might move to China - can you imagine how much harder that would be?

Our grandchildren always used to get upset when we left, or when they left here after a holiday. They still do, but at 11 and 13- they understand the situation. In many ways, because we don't live on doorstep- our time together is really special and so precious- for us- but I know for them too. Granddaugher wrote for her school magazine how our house is her favourite place in the whole wide world - and how 'cool' it is to go haring down mountains on skis with Granny and Grandpa, and kayaking, wild animal watching (Ibex, Chamois and badger watching)- and so on.

Heart goes out to you- we should meet up soon - Montreux perhaps, for a good natter. We will be in the next Valley to you in 2 weeks- so could meet up in Sierre or Sion.

Elegran Wed 26-Feb-20 11:43:51

I second those who have said to give him something of yours to "keep" for you while you are away, something that reminds him of you. Also, does he have a nice big photo of you, smiling, that he can look at and see your face?

It will pass once he understands that you haven't gone for good, that you will be back again. I am not sure that it is a good thing to come back at once in answer to his wails, particularly if you are tearful at leaving him - that makes him think that you too feel it is something to get upset about, and it could take him longer to accept that is natural to part for a while and then return.

maddyone Wed 26-Feb-20 11:43:56

What a horrible situation for you. It’s heart wrenching when they get so upset. I like Trisher’s suggestion of a special soft toy that you sleep with to get your scent on it, then when you leave, your grandchild has it, he ‘looks after’ it for you till you get home.
My daughter used to cry like that when she was little and family members left. She knew she wouldn’t see them for a long time as we lived 250 miles from them. It is very distressing, but eventually she stopped doing it and recognised she would see them again, after a few weeks.

Coconut Wed 26-Feb-20 11:51:18

Poor you I so feel your pain. My daughter left her partner in Marbella and came home to me with her darling baby boy, then 6 months. At one stage I was offered a temporary work secondment to Australia for 6 months and it all sounded so exciting and a wonderful opportunity. However, when I thought about actually saying goodbye to any of my GC for that length of time, I just couldn’t go ahead with it. It was bad enough with them crying when I said ‘see you next week’, and my GS who I lived with cried even when I went to work for the day ! I was lucky that DD and I got on really well, so it’s doubly hard for you. Are there other options of working closer ? And what has your DD said about the situation ? I so hope it all works out for you.

Gingergirl Wed 26-Feb-20 12:08:36

Well, needs must, and he will settle down eventually I’m sure, so you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Also, I would see it as an opportunity for him to develop a closer relationship with his mother. I think if I was your daughter I would possible be giving him some extra tlc at this time, explain what’s happening (even if he is very young), and strive to help him feel more secure in your absence. Good luck.

RomyP Wed 26-Feb-20 12:23:22

My husband had to work away from home for 6 months and we'd only see him fortnightly. I'd just get into a routine with my toddler when daddy would come home to disrupt it but those weekends together were lovely, the following week would be so difficult though then we'd be OK for a week before it all started again, it was really difficult for all of us. I'd suggest visiting every 3-4 weeks if you can, your GC will get used to the new routine and will be so happy to see you when you visit. Good luck.

GagaJo Wed 26-Feb-20 12:44:12

I do feel I disrupt their routine, BUT his life IS so much nicer when I'm around because he and I are so adoring of each other (none of the usual Mummy grumps). Also I drive, she doesn't, and he does LOVE going out in the car. And of course, because I don't see him very often, I take him lovely places (well, lovely for a toddler!). I don't want to give any of that up, because it is the joy of MY life, as well as his.

Jura, the school said that I would either be able to afford to live OFF campus on my salary plus the rent allowance in a place big enough for 3 OR they would provide me with enough space on campus for daughter and grandson. And neither has happened. So I'm quite down about it because I would never have accepted the job if I'd known the reality. My first priority was always being somewhere where they could be with me at least half the time. And they can't.

NfkDumpling Wed 26-Feb-20 15:31:17

I think you need to nag your employer a bit (nicely of course!)

DotMH1901 Wed 26-Feb-20 20:56:50

When I had arranged to have my gt nieces and gt nephew in the Summer holidays many years ago I ended up with just the girls as Phill managed to break his elbow and had to stay home. We packed up 14 small treats for him to open each day his sisters were away. My nephew told me he was so excited each day to see what gift he had. They ranged from a packet of sweets to a stocking filler game and kept him from feeling left out. Could you try something similar with your grandson? He is much younger than my gt nephew was (and you are away for longer) but perhaps you could leave him little notes from you to be handed out each day and could you arrange to skype or facetime him on some days? Interspersed with the odd little present or postcard written by you to be read out to him it might help him bide the time until he sees you again?

Namsnanny Wed 26-Feb-20 21:13:03

Gagjo … I've not read all the replies but are you handy with a needle and thread at all?

Could you have a photo taken of yourself and toddler with you wearing an item of clothing that you can cut up and make a soft toy out of?

Not so mad as it seems, and not so hard if it's just a blobby shaped toy with felt eyes or something.

The fact that it's made from your clothing, which has been recorded in a photo that he can keep, will add to it's ability to become an effective stress reliever for him.

Nothing will assuage his misery at loosing so much (outings, your company, etc.,) but he obviously needs something to soothe himself with for the time being.

PS I'm envious that you have a relationship with such a sweet little soul smile

Namsnanny Wed 26-Feb-20 21:14:06

...and what NfkDumpling said!