Background. 6 years ago, my nephew “N” (after some years of uncertainty) was diagnosed with an incurable genetic disease, he was 8. This disease (at least for him so far) affects the brain, he is cognitively at about 1.5yo, physically he’s still pretty healthy (which may not be the case long term). He also, as a result of the disease, is pretty unreliable with respect to self control. He throws things, hits (though not generally in anger) and yells. N seems to be happy, content with the limited scope of his life, and doesn’t understand how his behavior affects others.
N’s disease, or more specifically, the behavior that the disease causes, has become an increasingly difficult problem around holidays. The family, both of my parents, my family, my 2 sisters’ and 1 brother’s families tend to get together at my parent’s house, somewhat central, and a multiple hour drive for most parties.
My sister, N’s mom, insists on bringing N to every holiday. Due to his behavior*, this results in everyone being on edge. Parents of small children have to keep a wide berth in case N throws something or plays “patty cake” with the little ones. The older grandkids have to watch out for themselves, and the aunts and uncles are uncomfortable, but were OK as long as N was little.
He’s now 14, larger than the aunts, and strong enough to injure someone. Unfortunately, nobody in the family wants to tell my sister that N is unwelcome, but his presence, outside of a very controlled scenario, is incredibly disruptive. My sister is also very sensitive about the situation, she ran off crying when I set up a baby gate a couple years ago to manage N’s entry and exit from the front room to the kitchen and remainder of the house.
This issue is now blowing up, with my mother cancelling Thanksgiving, so she and my dad (who is ill) will be alone on the holiday rather than deal with trying to prep for a visit with N (clearing rooms of throwables, etc.), and unwilling to have other guests without inviting N as well.
From a personal standpoint, I’m sort of pissed that my son (now 6) has no memory of any single family holiday that hasn’t been engineered specifically around N’s condition.
Am I wrong for being angry, is my sister wrong for insisting on N’s attendance, is my mother wrong for not standing up and saying that N is too unmanageable at her home?
*I consider his behavior an unavoidable consequence of the disease, and not a failure of his mother to discipline him.