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Being used as a childcare prop to another parent's social life?

(136 Posts)
Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 18:05:59

Hello, I'm sorry this is a long one but would be very grateful for some feedback/advice. I'm not sure if I'm just being a resentful, mean-spirited old biddy, or if I have genuine cause to feel used.

I'll need to use abbreviations throughout: W is my 13-year-old son, D is my son's friend and S is D's mother. Got that? Then I'll begin...with a few facts for starters:

S has a partner plus an army of childcare for D (an only child) from her ex-husband and his parents, various friends, etc. She goes away with just her partner every other weekend when D stays with her ex. We have two sons, one still at primary-school, and have never, ever had any childcare support to rely on, other than paid. So yes, I admit to being envious on that front in the current situation. However, that honestly wasn't an issue to begin with.

Now I'll try to explain the situation: D lives about 20 minutes away from the school, so our house is a convenient place closer to the school. D is dropped off here every morning to walk in with W and a few other of his friends. Initially, D started coming back here after school a few times a week, to spend time with W. W was initially invited to D's house in return (but has been there at the most 5 times in total since they became friends more than 2 years ago). At first I was just happy that W had a good friend and didn't mind. S repeatedly checked it was okay and I said it was fine because I had no idea then that she would start to abuse it. Also, she used to occasionally pop in for a quick chat and cup of tea when collecting D which was nice.

But, in recent months, I have very rarely seen her and she has started to organise her whole social life around the expectation that W can come back here, with a myraid of other people collecting him. On the few times she shows her face, she's always in too much of a rush to come in for a chat. D still only comes a couple of times a week. It's not for long and it's no great inconvenience in itself but it's the attitude behind it that I'm starting to resent. For example, when D's after school club was cancelled at the last minute, S called me to ask if he could come back here because she was at the Ideal Home show and didn't want to rush back in the traffic! Recently, she asked me to help in a minor way with arrangements for D when plans changed while she was away on a spa break with her partner (which she took great pleasure in telling me about). The change of plan didn't work and I ended up having to call her ex-mother-in-law to find out what was going on. She was pretty fed up that S was away while everyone else was running around to sort things out and to be honest, I felt exactly the same way. From the rare conversations we have, S always seems to be out lunching with a friend or at some other social event, so there's no good reason why she can't collect D on time. I always without fail have to be there after work to collect my younger son from his school. As S is currently not working, I feel she doesn't have an excuse for relying on us as a fallback for childcare so much, especially as she has so many other sources of help. Also, she hasn't invited W over for months.

AIBU to feel resentful and used? Having D is no great inconvenience and so am I just being churlish? if I say anything, I'd end up jeapordising my son's friendship which I don't want to do. On the other hand, I'd never dream of relying on someone else to prop up my social life in the way that S does, rather than just asking for help in an emergency. (I have only ever once asked another friend to collect my son from school after I lost my father and I couldn't face going to the school.) Does anyone have any advice on how to cope with the resentment?!

IAmAShitHotLawyer Fri 15-May-15 18:20:08

Why can't the 13 year old just take himself home at the end of the school day or wait in school till his lift arrives?

hollyisalovelyname Fri 15-May-15 18:23:25

She's a user.
I hate users.
I'd make sure she got discommoded. grin

Radiatorvalves Fri 15-May-15 18:24:17

No real advice, but YANat allU to resent this. I think it will be difficult at this stage to go back to a sensible compromise... You could try setting cards on the table, but suspect you will end up going cold turkey.

Good luck.

Theycallmemellowjello Fri 15-May-15 18:25:01

Hm. To be fair, she did ask you several times if it was ok so it's not unreasonable of her to think it is ok. Of course it's fine if you want to reduce his visits, but I don't think she can know that this is what you want unless you tell her. Just say you want your son to get in with his homework when he gets in or something.

funnyface31 Fri 15-May-15 18:28:16

What happens in the holidays?

She sounds like she is living the dream at everyone's expense including her own DS.

rookiemere Fri 15-May-15 18:32:15

YANBU to be annoyed.

I'm a little surprised that at the age of 13 there is still a requirement to do school pick up, or have after school. Our afterschool stops after P7 ( scottish school) so age 10/11 and it is very much expected that all children will be able to take the bus or walk home by that stage.

I'd let the arrangements stay in place that don't inconvenience you, provided your DS enjoys spending time with him. However I'd start putting your foot down for other things i.e. facilitating weekend spa breaks. I suppose it would be feasible just to come out right and ask if your DS could stay over at some point if it would be useful to you, but I think at this stage it's better just to pull back.

I have to say I do ask people if they will take/pick up DS sometimes, but it's totally reciprocal. It's not a bad thing to ask for favors if you are prepared to repay them and maybe D is expecting you to act like her, but messing up the arrangements would have annoyed me too.

RB68 Fri 15-May-15 18:35:05

She has come to expect that its OK and to rely on you - then it becomes a responsibility for you. Just push back a little even things up - personally I would even explain it to son and get them to go to hers more. Having said that they are of an age that if responsible a few hrs on their own is OK

ApplePaltrow Fri 15-May-15 18:37:55

Do you have another child? Because otherwise, why do you need to be home when a 13 year old is walking home?

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 18:38:38

Hi, IAmAShitHot Lawyer, hollyisalovelyname and Radiatorvalves - thanks for your replies, they're very reassuring even if, as you say Radiatorvalves, I'm probably not really going to be able to change things at this stage. I like helping people, but I just don't like it when it starts to be taken for granted as I feel's the case here.

You're right, IAmAShitHot Lawyer, and D does sometimes wait at the school (otherwise he'd be here every school day). S never seems to be able to make the school run until at least half an hour after it closes, as I think it gets in the way of the long lunches!

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 18:40:40

Hi, Theycallmemellowjello, I agree, and it's a good point, but as I mentioned, things have changed a bit since she used to ask me. At that time, she still came in for a chat occasionally, so it felt a bit more friendly, and she reciprocated a bit more in having my son back occasionally at her house.

howabout Fri 15-May-15 18:41:51

YANBU to feel used but I would be wary of making a point hastily. How does your ds feel about the current arrangement? Would he resent you limiting his friendship or would he prefer to have his going out and coming in time to himself? How does this relationship impact on his ability to widen his social circle or attend extra curricular activities?

Is your sense of unreciprocated obligation affecting your plans or your other friendships? Would you prefer to lose the other mother from your social circle?

ThumbWitchesAbroad Fri 15-May-15 18:46:44

Do you want D to stop coming around so much? Or is it just that you feel she's really taking the piss (she is).

Are you having to feed D at your own expense? Because if you are, then that could be a way forward/out of it - just say that you're really sorry but D needs to bring his own after-school snacks as you're not in a position to keep being able to feed him.

If not, and you'd still rather he not came so much, then you need to start your own son in some after-school activity that requires you to be out the house far sooner than is convenient to S.

Is there not a bus he can get back home, or something? At 13, I was getting myself home from school and had a key in case Mum wasn't back yet.

Scholes34 Fri 15-May-15 18:54:52

The most important person here is your DS. If he's happy to have the friend back at yours, I'd try to relax a bit more about it. Once your DC are a bit older, it's great to feel you have a household where their friends want to hang out (regardless of the mother's role in all this). That's the silver lining on this cloud.

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 18:59:34

Hi, funnyface31, in the holidays S usually disappears to France with her family to visit her mother, or goes on a skiing holiday. Or D is away with the Scouts. She has offerered to take out my son a couple of times on the few times when she's around in the holidays, but there have been no offers like this since autumn last year.

CupidStuntSurvivor Fri 15-May-15 19:03:43

Are you somewhere really rural with no public transport? A 13 year old should be capable of making his own way home otherwise. Next time she rings, why not suggest he get the bus?

SolidGoldBrass Fri 15-May-15 19:03:58

I think, basically, you are jealous of her. It's sort of understandable as it sounds like she has plenty of money and enjoys her life, but having a 13 year old visit your 13 year old son is not an imposition in the way looking after someone else's little kid would be.
If you don't want teenage boys underfoot all the time, can you not suggest to your DS that he takes his pal to the park or the pub KFC or something?

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 19:06:53

Hi, rookiemere, thanks for your reply and for the good advice. My son does come home and let himself in before I return from work, but we live 15 minutes walk away from the school. D lives a 20-minute drive, hence us being a convenient stop-off place. Previously, we lived in a very cliquey small village, and both my sons struggled to make friends, so I'm very grateful he has friends here and don't feel for that reason that I can rock the boat too much. Perhaps as you say, S expects me to ask her favours in the same way, but she has never actively offered and given her record in hardly ever being around at close of school (what with her busy social life! smile), she probably wouldn't be the best person to ask anyway!

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 19:10:01

RB68, thanks for your reply. It's very true what you say: she has come to rely on me and I feel like it's an extra responsibility when arrangements go wrong, and I suppose that doesn't help the situation. Because S lives a 20-minute drive away, there isn't the option of both boys going back to hers unless she invites my son and drives them there.

IAmAShitHotLawyer Fri 15-May-15 19:11:08

I still don't understand why the other boy can't just go straight home after school?

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 19:13:30

ApplePaltrow, I do have another son, but he goes to after-school club as he's younger. The issue isn't that I have to be around for my older son and his friend, D, it's just that I feel S is relying on us too much just to support her social life and is giving nothing in return at the moment. I'm afraid I resent it - I'm not proud of that but I'm only human.blush

Mrsdoyle1 Fri 15-May-15 19:19:45

Thanks, howabout, you ask some good questions. We moved here just over a couple of years ago, so our social circle isn't very wide. I'm working and also renovating our house, so leisure time's a bit limited. I'm really glad my son's made good friends at the school and that's the most important thing, I realise, especially as we struggled in our old place which was very cliquey and unfriendly. I guess I just have to bite my lip and get on with it, but it irks when there's now so little reciprocation.

CupidStuntSurvivor Fri 15-May-15 19:21:05

I'm not sure if I'm missing something OP but it sounds like her DS is coming back to yours after school off his own back because he and your DS are friends, not because she hasn't arranged to pick him up. The instances where she actually asks often are they? I may well be getting the wrong end of the stick but it doesn't sound to me like you and she are friends but that on occasions where she's having an issue getting him home she occasionally asks a favour, and the rest of the time is your boys socialising.

Jengnr Fri 15-May-15 19:25:45

Why do you have to be around for them? They're not babies.

Quitelikely Fri 15-May-15 19:31:51


I totally get why you feel like this. I do t think you're jealous at all.

You are being taken for granted and imo I feel sorry for this woman's son! He seems to be pushed here there and everywhere but there is an army of helpers enabling her behaviour I suppose!

Be the bigger person and just enjoy the fact your ds has a good friend.

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