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unwanted companion

(23 Posts)
tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 09:21:05

Help - looming problem!

My oldest ds (nearly 11) wants to walk home from school when term begins. We want him to do this also.

The pros are as follows:
1. Most of his classmates do this already. He will have company for most of his journey.

2. The 30 minute walk is a pleasant one on a summer day - downhill, through residential streets, lots of trees and gardens.

3. He could do with the exercise. A big reason.

4. When he starts secondary school in September, he will be doing this same walk from the bus stop and so this will be good practice.

5. We feel he is mature enough to cope with this independence.

But there is a problem - let's call him boy1. Boy1 is in Ds's class. He hates the school and from what I hear is very defiant. He was banned from going on the school trip this year. His mother (who seems nice and on the ball) at present drives my 2 sons along with her son to playclub (ds2) and our home (ds1).

The head teacher at school talked to me boy1's bad effect on my easily led son last November and asked if I could end the pick up arrangement. Apparently my son's behaviour had deteriorated as they formed a friendship. To cut a long story short, we have managed to reach a compromnise - my son has avoided boy1 more at school, and curbed his behavior, so the pick up arrangement has continued.

However, I agreed with the head that by the summer term my son would be walking home from school alone. The head felt this was the best solution and in fact urged me to do this in November, but I felt my son was not ready then.

This is the problem:

Boy1, I am sure, will walk with my son if my son starts walking from school (boy1 is already walking to school alone). While he is not walking home from school, boy1's mother will continue to pick them both up (I pay her some cash to do this). I think they are waiting to see what we will do.

I am fine about boy1 walking with my son as long as other children are walking with them, but for the last third of the journey (up to 10 minutes) boy1 and my son will be alone. My son is worried about this as he just does not know how to cope with boy1's wilder moments (and believe me he is wild) and does not want to be dragged into trouble (boy1 is fond of name calling, swearing at strangers and I do not know what else)

Also, my son tells me boy1's mother has said she will wait for him in her car, outside our home if they walk home together. This is because the home/school walk for boy1 takes about 50 minutes. As this is on the long side, his mother will drive him for the last leg of the journey so he is not walking alone. I feel really worried about this arrangement. If she is late, how can my son refuse to let boy1 in our house? He will insist, I am sure of it. I really don't want the two of them alone in the house, but my son will be put on the spot if he goes in leaving boy1 hovering around outside. And boy1's mother will feel I am being very unfriendly in letting her son wait alone.

I have told my son to speak to his teachers about his worries over boy1 walking home with him. This is becuase his teachers know boy1 and his mother far better than I do. I would appreciate input from anyone here as I want to give my son lots of strategies to deal with this.

Should we keep the lift arrangement going and forget plans for him to walk home from school? This would make my son and I both feel resentful and trapped into an arrangment we do not want.

Should we go for a trial arrangement, give it two weeks, say and keep a close eye on things?

flashingnose Fri 01-Apr-05 09:24:05

Will boy1 be going to the same secondary school as your ds i.e. is this a one term problem only?

WideWebWitch Fri 01-Apr-05 09:26:40

I wouldn't start the arrangement at all tigermoth. It'll be hard to get out of it. Is there any way the mother can meet boy1 before they do the bit that means they're alone together? Could you tell her why? Or is there someone completely different he could walk with?

WideWebWitch Fri 01-Apr-05 09:28:19

Oh but then your ds would be walking alone for 10 minutes wouldn't he? I can see that this wouldn't be ideal then. I wouldn't start the walking unless you or someone else can supervise it in that case I think. Just because you do KNOW this is likely to have a bad effect on your son, you're not just wondering, and the head is concerned too.

tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 09:36:56

boy1 will be goig to a different secondary school in September. Phew!
No other child can walk with my son for the last 10 minutes of the journey.

www, good idea about getting boy1's mother to meet him earlier, so my son is not alone with him. However, from what I can gather, boy1's mother might be a bit in denial about her son's behaaviour. I am not sure, to be honest. And I will have to tread very carefully if I suggest an earlier pickup point. Even if I blame my own son for being easily lead and tell her I am afraid about the combination of them being together, I think she might get offended, especially as she has been collecting both boys from school for months. She has seen them together so must think they are fine in each other's company. She must feel able to trust them. It's my son who thinks otherwise.

tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 09:38:34

www, I don't mind my son walking home alone for the last 10 minutes as by that time he is pretty near the streets he plays out in anyway.

WideWebWitch Fri 01-Apr-05 09:39:00

He's actually telling you he's not to be trusted if he's with this boy1 tigermoth, so I'd be inclined to believe him! I'd delay the walk if pos if she won't collect earlier in the journey.

tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 09:39:32

also, difficult situation as the head actually wants my son to walk home from school.....

WideWebWitch Fri 01-Apr-05 09:40:53

Tell him to do the walk then! Sorry, but what does he expect you to do? He can't say on the one hand he wants your son to walk but he doesn't think he should walk with boy1 (and neither do you or your son!). I think you could tell the head it can't be done unless he can suggest someone else who could do the walk. I think your reasons would be very reasonable.

morningpaper Fri 01-Apr-05 09:43:16

Can he cycle? This would avoid the problem.

tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 09:45:40

I think I do need to talk this over with the teachers, definitely. Still undecided, though.

I also feel that my son will encounter this type of situation when he gets to secondary school so in some ways, getting him to deal with it now would be good. My son really does want to join all his other friends in walking home from school, and I feel cross that this situation is getting in the way of things.

tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 09:48:11

He can cycle, but the school is up a steep, quite busy hill, so he couldn't manage the morning journey. As far as I know there are no places to leave bikes at school, even if I put the bike in the car in the morning and delivered it to school, but it's a possibility - will look into it.

morningpaper Fri 01-Apr-05 09:53:48

No place to leave bikes at school is unbelieveable! I would sort that out!

Freckle Fri 01-Apr-05 10:00:12

What will you be doing, tigermoth, during the walk home? Could you meet your son at the 10 minute point and walk the rest of the way with him and boy1? You might only need to do this for a few times until boy1 gets the message that he's under surveillance.

tigermoth Fri 01-Apr-05 16:46:51

I asked my son about the possiblity of cycling back. No go, I'm afraid. The school don't allow it.

Freckle, I am at work full time, albeit locally and with flexible hours. I could manage the odd few days of shadowing my son and boy1 for 10 minutes, but as this is in the middle of the working afternoon, can't do this regularly.

I have been talking to dh about this today, and he can't see a way round it. He is not happy about our son regualarly walking home alone with boy1. I think he would agree to a trial arrangement as long as we talked to the teachers first about this . It makes me really annoyed life can't be simpler as the walk would do ds so much good. I just want to give ds1 a good strategy to use - we are only talking 10 minutes at the maximum and there will be lots of parents and children about as their route passes a big school. Very undecided!

roisin Fri 01-Apr-05 16:47:30

This certainly is very tricky Tigermoth. I think I would be inclined to give it a trial run, and see what happens: to give both boys a chance to prove they can be responsible.

After next term they will have so much more freedom, and fewer boundaries, it's a good opportunity to see how they go.

I think there are ways and means round ending the arrangement if it doesn't go well.

However, as you know, my eldest is 3 years younger, and I don't know whether I will feel the same in 3 years time!

Freckle Fri 01-Apr-05 18:18:58

As the school seem to be very keen for ds1 to walk home and are also aware of the problems with boy1, could you not get the head to speak to boy1's mum? If, as you say, she is in denial about her son's behaviour, hearing it from the head is a lot less embarrassing all round than hearing it from you.

Caligula Fri 01-Apr-05 18:28:08

I agree with Freckle, get the Head to talk to the other Mum.

Perhaps your DS is also slightly worried about being bullied by this other boy? Most kids are not that averse to be led into naughty ways, but it sounds to me like your DS is a bit scared of this boy.

The other thing is, is there another child who your DS likes, whose parents would be happy to let come for a regular playdate after school with your DS, until they get home from work? That way, at least there'll be another child to offset the bad influence of Wildboy. But it's a bit of a commitment to have the child in the house every day after school.

tigermoth Sat 02-Apr-05 07:35:42

Thanks for the suggestions. I know the head and boy1's mum don't see eye to eye, and boy1 isn't likely to be cowed into submission by a stern talking to from the head. Also, if the head talks to boy1's mum specifically about boy1 walking home with my ds, she may well put two and two together and realise I have been talking to the head, and be really cross with me. School pick ups are difficult to come by at our small school - I asked around, put an ad on the noticeboard, and she was the only person to offer.

Technically, the boys are outside the school's grounds, and this situation happens outside school hours, so I suspect boy1 and his mum may feel the head is meddling. That doesn't mean I won't talk to the teachers and possibly the head as far as my own son goes, it's just that I can't see the head being able to influence boy1 or his mum much.

Caligula, good point about my son being bullied by this other boy. The more I think about it, the more I feel there's an element of that mixed in. However charming and friendly boy1 is (and he does know how to turn on the charm), I certainly think boy1 enjoys getting my son in trouble - and that is a type of bullying.

I can't organise a regular playdate with another child after school. Both dh and I are at work (I work a 10 minute drive away so can come back in emergencies). Ds lets himself into our house and is there alone for 20 minutes or so till dh is back from work. We are happy to give ds this responsiblity and there have been no problems so far, but I wouldn't want ds to have friends round without adult supervision and don't suppose parents would be happy to let this happen, either.

Having said all this I am still clinging to the idea of giving my son the chance to walk home, at least for a trial period. As you say, roisin, at secondary school they will have so much more freedom, and I am sure my son will encounter boys like boy1 on the school bus and at bus stops, etc. It is unlikely he will have a convenient friend to protect him all through
his journey to and from school. I also know I'd have no qualms about ending the arrangment if a trial run did not work out.

Any ideas how I can tell my son to resist being influenced by boy 1 - for just a measly 5 - 10 minutes, surely not that difficult!

Freckle Sat 02-Apr-05 10:04:47

Could you encourage ds to keep a sort of "diary" of his trips home? Encourage him to write in it anything that happens, people he meets, talks to, etc. Tell him to write in it anything that worries him (without necessarily mentioning boy1 unless he's happy with that). Assure him that he will not get into trouble about anything he writes in it, but that it will help you both work out if there is a better way to deal with things.

Also, he can honestly say that he hasn't been "telling tales" if he does write something about boy1.

morningpaper Sat 02-Apr-05 10:20:14

How can the school "not allow" cycling???? How on earth can they justify that?

How can we get worked up about what children are eating at school when they are being stopped from exercising by the school itself!

ScummyMummy Sat 02-Apr-05 10:35:29

Hmm. Tough one. I think this is an "over to you, ds1" moment, maybe. What does he really want to do? I'd ask him and go with his answer. If he'd rather take his chances with the difficult boy1 character and walk then personally I'd definitely chance it, at least for a trial. At the end of the day learning to stick up for himself and to resist being drawn into other kids' game plans is a skill that will serve him for life. Ten minutes a day seems about the right level of risk- can he think of himself as a kind of yu-gi-oh crusader, using his powers to get through ten testing minutes? Or is that a bit naff?

If on the other hand he would seriously rather drive than be near this kid then I'd reluctantly put off the walking idea till secondary school. It would be mega-telling for him to reach that decision and would probably indicate that there was a level of bullying that ds1 couldn't and shouldn't be expected to deal with on his own. The more I think about this the more I suspect that your lovely ds1 is the person with the answers here.

tigermoth Sun 03-Apr-05 10:21:17

You're right - I need to take my cue from ds1. If he really feels boy1 is too much to cope with, then I need to respect this - just as www said.

He is keen to walk, I do know that. In the end he has to make the decision here. I don't think the yu-gi-ho warrier idea is naff at all scummmy - might try this. Also will suggest he keeps a diary. Will definitely do this as a trial run and also, only after talking to the teachers. If they think it is a bad idea, I will not attempt it at all. Also, I may spy on the boys by parking my car down a side street and watching just what happens when they part company with the rest of the children.

If my son decides to give it a trial, I'll tell him that on no account must boy1 come into the house. If boy1's mother isn't waiting to pick him up outside our home, then ds1 can wait with boy1 outside on the steps. I will tell boy1's mother that I never allow ds1 to bring friends into our home, if dh nd I aren't around, so she knows the score. If there is an emergency, ds1 will nip inside, phone me up and I will come back home.

morningpaper, perhaps it's down to the area I live in (SE London), but I never see primary school-aged children cycling to and from school alone. Perhaps it's a general rule of our LEA? Where you live, do children actually cycle to school?

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