I love those kids more than I can say. But they are always sick. They're always sick because they're rarely dressed properly for the weather, they aren't bathed frequently enough, they haven't learned basic hygiene, like washing hands *with soap* after using the bathroom. My sister off-handedly remarked once that she's only washed their towels maybe three times, ever. Once, when they were here, Nathaniel couldn't take it anymore. He took my niece to the bathroom and scrubbed her face - and she kept crying "I don't want to use soap." The water was grey.
It's this constantly awkward thing with us - I love my sister, too, but I feel so tense about letting her kids touch my son or his toys. How do I tell them they can't play with his things because they're too dirty? A few weeks after Christmas, we burned their Christmas tree on the grill outside, piece by piece. Their two-year-old was walking around with no shoes and no jacket. In January. Two days later, everyone was sick, including my son.
Tonight, the girls are sleeping over. The younger announces she feels like she has boogies, but they won't come out. The older says she thinks she has a fever.
I don't want to humiliate my sister, I don't want to make the girls feel alienated. I don't want to parent someone else's children, either, or tell them how they should do things. But I don't know want my son to get sick because they're dirty.
I really don't know how to handle this one.