Awkward situation with friend and her son(123 Posts)
My DS has been friends with a boy, R, since they were 5/6 (they're now 11 and 12). R was diagnosed with Aspergers about a year ago and the family have been having a difficult time with him – refusing school and things like that. My DS is more or less his only friend. His mum and I quite often do reciprocal childcare, but it does piss me off that whereas I give her plenty of notice if I'm asking her to have my DC, she will often ask the night before, or even on the actual day if I can look after her two. Some people are fine with this, but I just like a bit more notice.
So again she's asked me to have her DC tomorrow as she has to work – a course that she was signed up for that she didn't realise was right in the middle of the Easter holidays. She also phoned me to ask rather than texting (several missed calls until she got hold of me, and no message left), which I feel puts me on the spot makes it more difficult for me to say no. The awkward bit is that while my DS likes going round to her house to play with R, he really REALLY doesn't like R coming here. He feels there is less to do here, R gets bored and he feels this huge responsibility to entertain him while R is going 'no, that's boring' ... 'don't want to do that' etc. So DS has been crying today at the prospect of R coming tomorrow. It's just not fair on him, I know – but the family are struggling with R and I feel that maybe I should suck it up. I think I will hoik up my courage and ask the mum if she can please give me more notice, but it also grates on me a bit that she thinks my DS loves having his friend to play, when actually he dreads it . I'd feel guilty at making any references to DS not liking having R round, as I feel like it would be beating them when they're down, but at the same time I know she thinks DS would love having R round any time.
I guess I've kind of worked this out for myself just by writing it down here – i.e. ask her to give me more notice, but keep quiet about DS's feelings. But if anyone's been in a similar situation I'd be grateful for any thoughts?
'No' is a complete sentence. You don't always have to agree to babysit if you don't want to/it's not convenient.
Your friend needs to be more organised. Maybe your ds's friendship with this dc has run its course? A lot do at this age.
I think I'd reassure my Ds that it wasn't his responsibility to entertain the other boy all the time. If he doesn't want to join in with what your DS suggests, that's fine some of the time.
What 'more interesting' stuff do they do at your friends house? What does R like doing? Would he be happy just watching a DVD while your DS did his stuff or something?
Think of it more as a childminding service rather than a 'play date'
I hate that term .
I would stop saying yes so much. I would also ask R to bring something he does want to do with him to your house. You need to protect your son somewhat from the I'm bored syndrome (i.e. Step in and make him feel it's your responsibility too)
Mum sounds horrendously disorganised and that would annoy me too.
I'd just be honest. He finds it too difficult to deal with him at the moment and maybe it's best if they don't see each other as often.
I had the same situation many years ago with my DS and his "friend"
The difference was she and I were BF but our sons were not, at least for mine.
I told her my DS was not fine with seeing her DS all the time and she took it badly and has never spoken to me again alongside getting our mutual friends to defriend me too.
it was over 10 years ago but still hurts when i get blanked.
I remember telling her it was nothing to do with our friendship but at 11 our boys were sure to make new friends when moving schools and growing up.
My son has no recollection of this when I brought it up a few days ago. So its the adults that dont deal with things.
I think the Aspergers and him being difficult to deal with are red herrings: it's about the lack of notice. I think I would be inclined to apologetically say you can't because of <excuse> but I would look into other arrangements for your DS. It's not fair to take her goodwill and be crying about returning it.
Can her DS not bring a book? Kindle? DVDs? Comics?
It is not your DS responsibility to be his jester. Her DS can entertain himself.
Tell your DS to do whatever he likes, and if her DS doesn't like it he can do something else on his own. Keep an eye on the situation with them so you can intervene if friend's DS get's stroppy.
Aspergers aside, he shouldn't always get to do what he wants in other people's houses, and perhaps your DS needs his confidence building a bit for this situation, so he can say no?
It's fine to say no to a last-minute request - you have other plans. But if you are going to continue to send DS around to R's house, perhaps you need to rethink things, as an unreciprocal arrangement isn't fair, either.
In the meantime, if you are stuck with R today because you've already agreed, tell him to bring whatever he'd be doing at home (book, tablet, whatever) as it's not your DS's responsibility to entertain him. And if R is bored, well, you can't help that, nor will it kill R to be bored for a bit.
Can't you go round to her house and look after them there, if R prefers it there? Or contact her today and say that you were slightly surprised that R wanted to come again because he finds it boring at yours?
I don't think you can complain if you said yes though, or if you are happy to send your son there. You could certainly make this the last time but it would be better to say that you think the arrangement has run it's course now (in advance of when she needs it) rather than saying no when she rings you.
Why does your child like going to hers? What do they do there that they can't do at yours? Would your child prefer it if they just didn't go around each other's houses at all? I wouldn't tell her that your son doesn't like having him round, but I probably wouldn't be free at short notice. I might also say that her son complains of being bored, so when can talk to him about that.
Just say "oh no sorry we have plans".
I think you could also frame it as you've noticed that R is often not satisfied with the options available at your house and could she have your DS over instead some of the time. I get that that isn't an option if she is the one asking for childcare but it might make her think that there's a limit to what you can provide.
At school, I was made to sit next to children I didn't like that much so that I could help them. It meant that I had to be away from my friends, and caused quite a bit of misery as I lost friends as a result. I really hated it at the time, but looking back it was quite character-building to be taught at a young age that life wasn't just about me, me, me and that it was sometimes necessary to put others first.
I wonder if you can have a word with this woman and explain the difficulty over location in terms of the needs of her son - "Your son is miserable at our house, he's really bored without his things and my son doesn't really know how to entertain him. Can you suggest an answer to this?" Perhaps bringing more of his own toys and things might help?
Definitely mention the notice thing - that's just a matter of courtesy.
I think you have to put your son first, and if he dreads these visits to the point of tears, then it's time to reduce them.
As a pp asked, why are visits at R's house easier for your son?
Your friend does sound very pushy. She should just text you if you don't answer the phone instead of calling repeatedly. Sounds like she knows she's putting you on the spot.
I think there are two separate issues. Her lack of notice and constant demands (numerous missed calls is rude!) for immediate answers is incredibly rude and presumptive. That would be enough for me to tell her bluntly that I need notice, or it's not happening.
The fact that R is bored and your DS feels under pressure to entertain him is unfair. Could R bring some things from home to play with as PP have suggested to take the pressure off your son a bit?
I could get him to bring a book or something, but the two boys still are good friends ... just not round here! His mum would be baffled if I said "Can R bring a book as he and DS don't always get along at my house" ... and I also think she'd be really gutted if she knew DS doesn't want R round. Almost like it would be the last straw for her, being pretty much his only friend. R frequently gets upset over the fact he thinks he has no friends
DS normally goes round to R's not because I've 'sent' him, but because he's been invited –which he likes and R's mum too (she admits she much prefers it if there are other kids in the house to entertain hers). It's rare that I actually request that she has my DC (which I do well in advance!)
I have told DS many times that it's not his responsibility to entertain but he still feels it is, and that he can't have R just sitting doing nothing. It would make for a bad atmosphere, no doubt about it.
The thing about the notice is that his mum will ask me in a very roundabout way ... like "are you up to much tomorrow" and I don't always have an answer just ready on the tip of my tongue! I actually think she'd enquire further if I said "oh, we have plans", and possibly ask me to include her DC in them. (Her DD and mine are best friends!) she doesn't really mind where her DC go and I actually think she would just ask me to take them with us if we're off out somewhere for the day (we have a 7-seater). I also think a lie would find its way back via the DC, and I wouldn't want to ask them to lie about it either! So any excuse would have to be massively convoluted and deceitful.
I know, I'm just coming up with weak excuses to avoid confrontation, I know I need to do this. Thanks for all the replies.
Oh –to answer the question. Visits to R's house are easier because they're allowed lots of computer time. R does programming and often gets to show my DS the kind of stuff he does, games and servers and all that. I keep a pretty strict limit on my DCs computer time.
"Your son is miserable at our house, he's really bored without his things and my son doesn't really know how to entertain him. Can you suggest an answer to this?"
This is good, holly, I'll try that –thanks.
Because it's too late to get out of tomorrow I'd suggest texting her and saying "Can you please make sure R brings some things to do as he kept saying he was bored last time he was here".
Then when she picks him up mention that you really need a bit more notice in future.
I'd be honest and say you need more notice and casually say does R like coming as you're worried he's saying he's bored a lot.
How about your son goes out somewhere today as he already had plans? Perhaps not for the whole time. Also your son has to be able to stuck up for himself. Eg ok we've already done x now I would like to do y but if you'd like to continue doing x by yourself that's ok.
God. At this age your ds should be arranging his own meet ups with friends OP. No wonder he's frustrated with this situation.
Just because it suits you and the other boy's Mother, doesn't make it ok to force them together in this way. It's "ok" when DS goes to the boy's house but that can't continue if DS doesn't want him at yours.
Time to move on I think.
I agree the notice thing is crap and I think he should be bringing some stuff to amuse himself with at yours. I also think you need to allow R more computer time at your house. If that is his special interest or the thing that keeps him calm then you should make that adaptation when you are hosting him.
I had a friend who's ask me for childcare in the same fashion. A practical tip: when shes asks just say 'oh I'm not sure, that date rings a bell, let me check and get back to you' then I'd e-mail or text and say 'sorry, can't do that date'. Don't give a reason as they just try and get around it. My friend eventually took the hint.
Also agree with pp, tell her her ds is bored at your house and ask for suggestions.
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