To be concerned about this?

(64 Posts)
Frequency Wed 30-Sep-15 10:33:36

I started a thread a while back about the volume of food DC1 was eating under her secondary school's new lunch system (you pay online into an account, the child's thumbprint is scanned every time they make a purchase and the money debited from their account)

Well, it's come to light as to why she is buying so much food and it's not because she has grown a second stomach. She is subisidising her friends on free school meals.

She claims that sometimes their free school meal money does not get paid into their account on time, which I don't believe. I believe that they are following DC1 and other non free school meal friends and buying snacks at break, which their funds don't cover.

It's not so much the money that is bothering me, it's amounting to £2-3 a week, which whilst I'm hardly rolling in it, is not going to bankrupt me, especially if the girls in question would genuinely go without lunch otherwise (doubtful)

What's concerning me is the potential for bullying. For background info, DC1 was bullied relentlessly throughout year 6 and this is how it started.

She had a friend who never seemed to have any money. This friend would spend most weekends at our house, eating our food and joining our family activities, which didn't bother me at the time, she appeared to be a nice, if somewhat lonely girl, whose parents may be a bit busy to deal with her (she just turned up one weekend and stayed)

If they had plans with other friends this girls parents would never give her money, so without my knowledge DC1 funded her from her pocket money. Paying for her lunch in town or snacks after swimming and loaning her swimsuits etc because she had none. It was very sad and if I'd known I'd have felt for the girl.

One day DC1 didn't want to buy her lunch, she wanted to spend her pocket money on a book she'd been waiting for. This girl then threatened her, telling her if she didn't give her half of her pocket money, she would turn all of D1's friends against her. DC1 didn't give in, the girl stuck to her word. It got very nasty and didn't stop until I told the school if it was not dealt with I'd have to involve the police.

I'm worried that if DC1 has no money one day or simply wants to spend it on herself, that these two girls also start on her and that they may be taking advantage of her generous nature.

They seem to be spending most of their money on cakes and cookies (not ideal I agree) so I've suggested to DC1 that she make a couple of batches of cakes and cookies to take in with her and save everyone a bit of money, but it doesn't stop me being concerned that she is setting herself up to be bullied again. The girls are all in year 8.

DoreenLethal Wed 30-Sep-15 10:52:00

What did the school say when you went in to discuss it with them?

Frequency Wed 30-Sep-15 10:58:54

I haven't been in yet. She only told me last night when I asked why she'd bought a salad and a sandwich and 2 cakes.

I'm not sure I need to go in but they have monthly parent forums, so can raise it at the next one (in confidence of course). Like I say, it's not the money that's the issue, it's the potential for bullying.

If I knew these girls were genuine and would not turn on her, then I'd be more than happy for her to buy them a few slices of cake so they don't feel left out if that's what she wants to do.

The girls both seem nice enough, but then I thought the bully from year 6 was a nice girl too.

Frequency Wed 30-Sep-15 11:03:29

Dc1 is also determined that I don't go to the school. She is worried her friends get into trouble and says that they don't ask her to buy them lunch, she offers.

I did mention phoning the school and she cried and begged me not to.

parrotsummer Wed 30-Sep-15 11:04:32

Sorry if it's obvious but packed lunch?

herooftime Wed 30-Sep-15 11:07:21

You have to solve this for her by being the big bad guy here. 'Mum says I'm not allowed to buy you anything or I will be grounded,' gets her out of any obligations she might feel she has. She needs to learn to make friends without buying them as paid for friends are worthless when troubles strike.

Frequency Wed 30-Sep-15 11:10:04

I've suggested she take in packed snacks for breaks for all to share, which she is open to, would be cheaper for us (the cakes are £1 each) and would stop the girls spending all of their lunch money on cake.

She enjoys the social side of going to the canteen and eating with her friends and after all the trouble she had in year 6 and then spending year 7 pretty much alone I don't want to rock the boat or worry her by demanding that she change her meal plans. Atm she is getting to school early to meet with other friends and buy breakfast and seems a lot happier now she's settled with friends, so I'm very conscious of not making her an outsider again.

Sapele Wed 30-Sep-15 11:12:19

Boundaries. It;s not in your remit to make sure these children are fed. It's really not. You're romanticising it in order to try and avoid getting angry or having a confrontation (or your dd having a confrontation) but that's not the answer.

If they are struggling the school needs to know. This sounds like she is already being bullied tbh. Or shortly will be as you surmise.

I think you need to speak to the school TODAY. Tell them the names of the children, ask them to speak to your dd and explain that she must NOT do this.

They may have a way to handle it that gets her off the hook completely because now she has set a precedent she is implicitly obliged to continue.

Please act now.
It will probably be simple to stop if you just get some perspective smile

Not meaning to be harsh. btw your last thread made me think immediately that she was subbing other children. I am glad you found out.

Sapele Wed 30-Sep-15 11:13:30

I also have a Y8 and he would also beg me not to tell the school. I did and it was resolved instantly, schools are good at this now, generally.

Frequency Wed 30-Sep-15 11:16:07

I'll phone the school after lunch and set up a meeting with her advisor to discuss it.

I hate confrontation, you are right about that and Dc1 seems to have followed in my footsteps regarding that.

Sleepybunny Wed 30-Sep-15 11:16:26

Your DD sounds lovely. I wouldn't go making cakes for these friends though, as she shouldn't be made to feel like she has to give into any demands or apease anyone to maintain a friendship.
If your DD chooses to give then that is great that it's her choice. I would drum into her that it's entirely her decision and does not need to listen to any emtional blackmail or abuse from anyone.

Unless you think there is any bullying going on, I would just stick to your plan of raising it at the next forum meeting. It does seem a bit unfair that children on free meals don't get treats. Then again there will always be children whose parents give more than others for various reasons, and life is a bit like that I guess.

Sapele Wed 30-Sep-15 11:16:53

This is all wrong. you do NOT send her in with extra food to share. You make some proper boundaries around her, for her, and you speak to the school to ensure they are following it up.

The children will not see her a wonderful. They will see her as having no boundaries. That will ENCOURAGE bullying among the less nice kids.

Can you see that?

blueteapot Wed 30-Sep-15 11:18:49

Send her with a packed lunch and not money? Then she can get out of buying for these other girls without causing a fuss?

blueteapot Wed 30-Sep-15 11:20:07

Ah sorry I see thats been suggested upthread

TPel Wed 30-Sep-15 11:21:32

I think you are doing the right thing. Your lovely DD needs to understand that she can say no. It is vital - women generally have far more trouble with this than men - as she grows and becomes an independent adult. 'No' is one of the most important words we can say.

KitZacJak Wed 30-Sep-15 11:23:54

I think you need to tell your daughter that the money is for her lunch only, not for snacks for other people. She is open to bullies if you don't enforce it. She sounds like a kind girl but if there is a problem with these girls not having enough food I think the parents/school should be dealing with it.

If she wants to take in cakes as a treat from time to time (maybe once every month) and hand them out to friends at lunch that would be a kind thing to do.

If you daughter stops buying people food then you shouldn't need to go into the school.

Sleepybunny Wed 30-Sep-15 11:25:52

If you mention it to the school you risk harming your DDs trust in you and she may worry about confiding in you.

Have you asked her what would happen if she didn't make these puchases? How would the othera react? Does she feel like they are good friends?

Sapele Wed 30-Sep-15 11:29:29

Sometimes it is important and right to let the school know. You just have to have that conversation and make sure she understands you are doing the right thing.

She sounds capable of understanding that.

My son was bullied on the bus last term. He didn't want anyone to know but we thrashed it out, I spoke to the bus company and the school and the kid got an exclusion and banned from the buses for a few months. It didn't happen again; they are certain now that he means business, and that he, and I, and the school will not tolerate their crappy behaviour.

Ds now has loads of mates and he did not suffer as a result of my speaking out, so his trust in me was affirmed rather than damaged.

Had I not said a word, he would have learned only to put up and shut up out of fear. And more importantly it would have continued.

CrapBag Wed 30-Sep-15 11:31:38

I really disagree that your DD should be making cakes to take in for them! Sorry but this is ridiculous. If they are spending their money on crap and not having enough for lunch, that's their problem, not yours or your DDs. Personally I would tell my child that they were not to be spending their money on food for their friends and that she has been told by her parent she isn't allowed to do it. It's not on and the day when your DD doesn't want to or can't do it, the same thing could happen as in primary school. She really should have learnt from that experience not to do it again.

leghoul Wed 30-Sep-15 11:48:35

tricky OP. I'd absolutely tell her she can't buy food for other people. I can see how hard that must be with the system they've set up - can they set a daily cap so that it can't be abused? I doubt she will be the only one under pressure like this for others' wants and peer group acceptance and so on. I seriously doubt that the other DC don't have lunch money, the school need to be informed if this is their reasoning as it sounds like it's a school issue - perhaps if you do approach the school do so as a systems issue, i.e. are they properly supervised, you can tell this is open to abuse? or tell DD to tell DC she has a limited £ only and her mother checks what is purchased, sorry, but can't help

leghoul Wed 30-Sep-15 11:49:35

longer term work on assertiveness, saying no, self confidence - easier said than done

leghoul Wed 30-Sep-15 11:50:01

-but vital, and would help her to stand her ground herself or this will get worse

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 30-Sep-15 12:06:34

£2-£3 a week at £1 a pop does not suggest that she is either trying to buy their friendship or indulging an overtly sweet tooth amongst her friends?

It sounds like she has gotten into the habit of treating her friends weekly to a cake using her card. While I completely agree that the potential for all of this to turn sour is there, it is completely transparent to you because of the online system? If she suddenly starts spending all her lunch money on a bowl of soup and 3 cakes daily then it's a red flag.

It's a nice thing to treat your friends occasionally particularly given her recent history, it's understandable that she wants to. I would sit her down and discuss boundaries with her. You expect her to eat a proper meal, you expect that if their funds haven't come through that they address it with the school - no school is going to see them go hungry. If she wants to buy everyone a packet of Maltezers occasionally that's fine but she should avoid setting an expectation that it's Friday and MissFrequency is buying the cakes!

TheHouseOnTheLane Wed 30-Sep-15 12:12:21

I think people are being too quick to judge here....why shouldn't people share? The Western world is so rich in some ways...that I think we forget what really matters.

It's a cake. Of course the OP can give a bit extra if she wants to. We're so intent on what we can have and what we can KEEP to ourselves here that I find it sickening.

OP help DD and speak to school for sure.x

sproketmx Wed 30-Sep-15 12:27:49

OMG I'd have been mortified if you went into school about it. She's maybe being generous buying her mates a poke of crisps or sweets. Just don't give her extra money to account for it

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