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I know something I shouldn't know

 
 
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 11:56 am
and it's driving me nuts and I wish I didn't know it so even though this is a strange question I'm going to throw it out here and see what rolls in because I just kind of need to get it off my chest.

Mo has a new friend, "Jim". Jim moved in right across the street just before Thanksgiving. Jim is a year older than Mo and they have been pretty much inseperable since they met.

And that's good. Jim's a nice kid and we all really like him. We have an open door policy with most of Mo's friends and Jim likes hanging out here. Mo's in heaven because he has a ready friend who is so close by.

But yesterday something really odd happened.

Jim was here and Mo and Mr. B had to run an errand so they invited Jim to come along. Jim called his dad and got an okay to go. Then Jim began asking "Are we coming back?" "We're coming back, right?" I told him of course they were coming back. Jim has gone places with us before and we've always come back so the question was a bit confusing. They were just going to the store.

So they left.

And Jim had a major panic attack. Mr. B stopped the car to check on Jim because Jim was freaking. Mr. B asked Jim if he wanted to go home and Jim said yes so Mr. B took him home.

As soon as Mr. B and Mo returned Jim came back over and it was like nothing had happened.

Except for Mo and Mr. B who were both a little freaked out by the incident.

Here's what I'm not supposed to know:'

Jim's mom didn't die "in a car accident" three years ago. She shot herself in the head. I know this because in a freaky small worldness way I'm acquainted with Jim's mother's mom. I caught her crying at the dog park one day, the anniversary of her daughter's suicide it turns out.

So last night I was doing some reading on how a parent's suicide effects a child and it is not pretty. Jim would have been about 8 when this happened which is kind of the "prime awfulness" years for a kid to experience something like this.

On a very selfish level I'm worried that as Mo and Jim's friendship develops that he might confide in Mo about what really happened. Mo already has some "mother issues" and I don't know how I'd handle this story.

I'm also worried about Jim. I realize there isn't anything I can do about it -- I can't even talk to Jim's dad about the panic attack.

And I can't talk to Mo about what might have set Jim off.

I don't want to discourage Mo's friendship with Jim and I don't want to exclude Jim from our outings but I also don't want Mo freaking out over his friend's freak outs.

So what do I do?
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Type: Question • Score: 12 • Views: 3,750 • Replies: 41

 
DrewDad
 
  4  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 12:22 pm
@boomerang,
My first thought is that you should talk to Mo about it and get it out in the open.

Does he have a regular therapist? Maybe you should get their advice.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 12:32 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
I'm also worried about Jim. I realize there isn't anything I can do about it -- I can't even talk to Jim's dad about the panic attack.

And I can't talk to Mo about what might have set Jim off.


is there a part to this story that explains why you can't talk to Jim's dad about the panic attack?

ya gotta talk to Mo. It may take a while to figure out exactly how - you don't have to talk about what you know about Jim's mother's death - but you can talk about how some kids worry about their people not being home when they get back (not that unusual a fear) and how some kids worry before they go on trips - and it's ok - we learn (eventually) how to work with things that make us nervous/unhappy/sad/scared.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 01:34 pm
@boomerang,
Boomer, correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't Mo had some major separation anxiety issues himself? He should totally understand how his friend feels. Just remind him. He might even be able to help Jim get through some of these episodes.

(Absolutely no need to get into the suicide issue now unless Jim brings it up.)
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  6  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 01:59 pm
@boomerang,
Do you think Jim knows how his mother died? It would be tramatic to lose your mother either way, so your added knowledge might not be relevant. I think you should discuss it with Jim's father. If Mo had an issue, wouldn't you want to know?
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 02:00 pm
I grew up with two kids whose mom's had killed themselves, one by hanging the other shot herself. Kids will talk and one day Mo will find out. I think you should talk to Mo about this, but I don't know if he needs to know the gory details now.
My best friend always worried that she might end up like her mom and we spent many hours as kids discussing how the apple doesn't always fall from the tree the same way. She thought it might be genetic. I convinced her, in my childish way, that just because a parent might have made a bad choice, she was all the wiser and what she (and I) knew could only make us stronger and better. She knew the pain and suffering and made a promise to herself, if she ever felt that kind of pain, that there was and is help available.
Hope this helps, it's a tough issue to deal with. Maybe there is a good book that could help.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 03:37 pm
Thanks all.

My first instinct was to talk to Mo about Jim's mom but my gut really tells me not to. I remember what happened when Mo confided to his friends about being adopted - about how he lived with his other mom and dad for a few years, and them saw them regularly for a few more, and then they disappeared, and about how he has two sisters, and where they are, etc. His friends told everyone and it was really difficult for Mo. I just don't know if Mo could keep that secret and I don't want him to be responsible for letting the story out.

Jim had to have been 8 or 9 when it happened. I can't even imagine that he doesn't know.

I don't feel comfortable talking to Jim's dad because I don't think I want him to know that I know. I think if he knew I knew that it would make things awkward. Plus, I wasn't in the car when it happened. I know Mr. B wouldn't be comfortable talking to Jim's dad about it.

I asked Mr. B what Mo did when Jim freaked and Mr. B said Mo was at first very frightened but then "broke the ice" and helped get things back on track. Mo has experienced loss and that probably does make it easier for him to understand what Jim might be going through, and why Jim might freak out.

Mo still gets very upset about the possiblility of people not coming back.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 03:44 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
I don't feel comfortable talking to Jim's dad because I don't think I want him to know that I know. I think if he knew I knew that it would make things awkward. Plus, I wasn't in the car when it happened. I know Mr. B wouldn't be comfortable talking to Jim's dad about it.


Is Jim's dad the one who is saying she died in a car accident? Where's that coming from, specifically, Jim, or his dad? I get that you feel uncomfortable bringing it up to the dad but I don't really understand why. My first response mimicked ehbeth's. But - you know Jim's dad better than any of us and maybe he doesn't seem approachable with what you know.

Do you have any way to search out the Grandma and talk to her? I assume she's still involved in Jim's life.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 03:47 pm
@boomerang,
I am guessing from what you state that Mo knows that Jim's mom died, but thinks it is from a car accident....can't you just keep it simple and say, Jim was worried because he was thinking about how his mom died. It made him panic. No need to get into the specifics.

Do you think Mo would tell you if he found out the real way she died? If so, I feel comfortable waiting until he heard. In the mean time, you could find out from people that know better than us - how you should best handle the topic of suicide with Mo considering his own concern of abandenment.
engineer
 
  4  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 03:52 pm
@Linkat,
Actually, you don't know why Jim reacted the way he did (although I think you ideas are pretty good.) Jim had a medical problem in the car. His dad needs to know. You don't have to analyze it or explain it, but I think you have to report it. If Jim had an alergic reaction in the car, you would discuss it. Of course, that still leaves Mo. I think this story is Jim's to tell and you are ok not discussing it with Mo. It's not that you are keeping secrets, just that it's not your story to tell.
dlowan
 
  4  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 03:56 pm
@boomerang,
Er...I still don't get why you can't tell the kid's dad about the panic attack.

I think he needs to know.

I don't see how knowing about the panic attack says anything about you knowing anything about how the mum died...in fact, being triggered by a car journey if you think your mum died in a car accident makes heaps of sense.

And that kind of anxiety about separation makes sense however a parent dies.

As for the suicide...I don't think there's anything much you can do except have your explanations ready for if Mo finds out while he's still little...you know, the depression makes you not think straight stuff.

I'm curious to know what you have read about kids whose parents suicide, especially at this kid's age, that worries you so? I am not quite sure what your specific fear in relation to Mo is?



0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:15 pm
Like I said at the beginning -- it's a weird question. I don't have any specific reasons or whys, just gut feelings, something I needed to get off my chest.

Mr. B., Mo and I have talked about it for a little bit. We typically put a little "pad" out letting Mo know that if he wants to talk about something upsetting that we're aware of that we're there to listen. It typically takes him a few days to process things and bring them up so we just wait patiently until he's ready to talk.

I completely agree that it's Jim's story to tell. That's what I have always told Mo about his story. When he finally felt comfortable enough with someone to tell them it turned around and bit him on the ass.

I don't really know Jim's dad. I've only met him once face to face. They haven't even lived here a month. That makes it kind of hard to do the whole "Jim freaked out" conversation.

I just don't know. I needed to roll this around somewhere other than my head for a bit.

And I hope Jim doesn't tell Mo because I don't want Mo to have the responsiblity of knowing.... if that makes sense to anyone but me.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:21 pm
What I've read is that kids whose parent's commit suicide are three times as likely to kill themselves. That they are much more likely to be jailed for violent acts against others. That they are much more likely to suffer psychiatric impairments.

I'll have to pull the information back up but I believe that if the sucide occurs after the kid is 18 that the incidence of these things is negligible. And if after 13 the incidence isn't huge. It was when the suicide happens before the chld is 13 that things can get really haywire.

Again, this is just a hunch but I think Jim is medicated. Sometimes he's very docile and almost robotic. Other times he's more relaxed -- usually in the mornings (he likes to come over and eat breakfast with us). Maybe he was off his meds yesterday?
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:25 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
more likely to be jailed for violent acts against others

suicide happens before the chld is 13

he's very docile and almost robotic


All of these worry me. Please talk to the dad. Or at least talk to the grandmother.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:26 pm
@boomerang,
I do get the responsibility part, yeah. It's very hard for kids to know something that they're not supposed to pass on, or that they can only pass on carefully.

It sounds like the freak-out will speed up the getting-to-know-you phase -- I understand how that usually proceeds in a more gradual fashion. But yeah, seems like something to tell him about. ("Hi, [some general chitchat], Mo has so enjoyed having Jim nearby, they really are getting along well. [allow Jim's dad to say whatever reciprocal stuff here] Welcome to the neighborhood! Hey I wanted to let you know something that happened the other day. No problem at all from our perspective but as a parent it's something I'd want to know so just passing it on." )
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  3  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:29 pm
Why not?

This is a good time to talk to Mo about 1) grieving and 2) how people die and 3) family secrets.

Mo will develop compassion for himself and for others who suffer if he is allowed to hear the stories in a trusting environment (with you).

You are not going to be around Mo 24/7 and he will hear about gruesome things when he's by himself. So give him the tools now so he's able to use them later when he hears things, like when a friend's mother took her own life. (Or if a friend threatens suicide)

Don't make life or death a secret. The "no talk" atmosphere can be toxic.

There's no reason to think that Mo has to feel as though he's responsible for other people's actions.

PS Yes, you MUST tell that boy's father he had a panic attack. You are just giving him information. What he does with it is his call. He may or may not share his family's tragedy with you. But he needs to know that his son has issues when leaving home. (He probably already does)



0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:40 pm
Engineer already mentioned this but I don't think you need to get into cause and effect because we can't really know. Maybe he DOESN'T know that his mom committed suicide and he is anxious in cars because he thinks that's how she died. Or maybe not, but we don't know.

So anything would have to stay in the realm of what is known, I think. I also think that mention of suicide should wait until that it is confirmed with the dad that the kid knows that. My cousins were about his age (some older, some younger) when their dad committed suicide and they were also told car accident. They gradually figured it out amongst themselves (mostly because they kept asking for details and kept getting different answers and would compare notes) but it took them probably at least five years before they knew anything for sure. So I'd definitely caution against assuming he knows that it was suicide.

(All four of these cousins are fine btw, even though both parents committed suicide, one while very young due to depression, the other via assisted suicide later in life due to illness... the youngest cousin was only 20 at the time though.)
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:45 pm
Perhaps, in a round about way you could talk to the grandmother first. Find out what her understanding as to what the boy knows. It may be easier then to approach the subject with the dad.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  5  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:49 pm
@sozobe,
I agree that there is no way that Boomer should be telling Mo about the suicide.

We have no idea, as Soz says, what Jim has been told...and that isn't Boomer's secret to tell. Lots of parents don't tell kids the truth about such things.

Poor Mo would then, indeed, have a burden to carry!

It sure illustrates though how murky life becomes when there are secrets.

0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Dec, 2010 04:54 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

I don't really know Jim's dad. I've only met him once face to face. They haven't even lived here a month. That makes it kind of hard to do the whole "Jim freaked out" conversation.


wouldn't you expect Jim's dad to tell you if something unusual happened to Mo while Mo was visiting them? or is what happens to Mo while at his friends' homes none of your business?
 

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