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I was going to post in AIBU about this but I'm fairly certain I'm not when they apologised to me for....

(6 Posts)
boogiewoogie Mon 22-Jun-09 22:43:18

daring ds to eat various plants from our garden.

Ds who is 4 has a few "friends" who are all 7 from our neighbourhood. Ds enjoys having them over to play in our garden despite the age gap.

Having observed them a few times over a year, both dh and I feel that they can sometimes leave ds out although this can be understandable if they are playing something like football which ds does not have the skills in. Anyway, generally speaking they are all quite nice lads on a one to one basis. However, dh has told me that he would not let ds out of his sight if boy "J" was there.

His reasons being that, he tends to be a bit of a rascal, tells lies probably not malicious ones but ones that make him look "big" iyswim. The other 2 boys are cousins, one of which lives across the road.

Anyway, tonight the 3 of them came and J asked whether ds could come out to play in our garden. I said yes but ds had to be in in 20 minutes to have his dinner. As I was preparing dinner, I heard a few fits of giggles from the other boys, I went out to see what was going on and they told me that ds was eating some pea leaves and some other plants. I told ds not to eat the peas as we were going to have dinner soon, I didn't think it unusual otherwise as I had shown him earlier the pea pods that he'd planted with dh and shelled one to show him the peas. I went back inside and another 5 minutes later I heard giggling again, so went out again and this time he had eaten some mint, other plant leaves that were not edible, parsley and an apple off our tree which wasn't ripe and I knew that ds would not have done this himself given his past experience. At this point I told him that he knows he is not meant to pick and eat the apples until they are ripe to which he replied "But they told me to eat it". The penny dropped and one of them said, "well, it's 6 0 clock, it's time for you to go in, let's go and play out".

I took ds in and asked what he meant, when he told me, it was clear to me that they had dared him to eat the various plants. When J had asked him to eat the apple, he replied "But it's not ripe", J said "yes it is". At this point, I told him that they were not his friends for coercing him into bad behaviour and making fun of him. Ds was in tears, I was very cross indeed.

They were sat outside the neighbour's house so I took the opportunity to go over and tell them that "ds is very upset and had told me that he had been dared to pick the plants and eat them, is that right?"

There was a long awkward silence at this point, confirming that ds had been telling the truth. I then said, "Well, I'm very disappointed by this sort of behaviour as ds enjoys playing with you, he sees you as the "big boys" and looks up to you. This sort of behaviour is pretty much the same as bullying." They all looked very ashamed at this point and said sorry to me and to pass their apologies to ds who was still in tears. They had promised not to do it again.

In a way, I'm pleased to have stuck up for ds and they had realised what they have done but if you've been in a similar situation or have been a parent of a child who may had done this sort of thing, what would you suggest I could have done? Did I do the right thing? I hope that I wasn't being too precious but ds is 4 afterall and they are 7 and there are 3 of them as well, they ought to know better.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 22-Jun-09 22:52:36

I think you handled it wonderfully well.

The only thing I would have added is that they - let alone younger children - must never eat anything plant unless they have been specifically told its OK (like peas or mint) and they are absolutely sure they have the correct plant. Some common garden plants are deadly poisonous. Daring games - especially with younger children - can, as you say be tantamount to bullying, even if it starts as a joke, but this could have turned out seriously badly.

Make sure your son knows exactly what plants he can eat and tell him anything else could make him sick.

boogiewoogie Tue 23-Jun-09 08:29:15


Thanks for the kind comment Grimma, given that I've written an embarrassingly long post! Of course that is a very important point too and will make ds aware of it. Bless him, he did say that he will ask me in future which plants he can eat.

MmeLindt Tue 23-Jun-09 08:52:17

I agree with Grimma, you handled the situation very well.

If it had been my children then I would have been quite happy for you to have given them a telling off.

spicemonster Tue 23-Jun-09 08:57:16

I agree with everyone else - I think you handled it really well. And if one of those boys had been my DS I would have been furious with him! I think I agree with your DH that in future I wouldn't allow them to play on their own - children are dreadful at egging one another on, especially if there's a 'ringleader' around.

Grumpyoldcaaaaaaaa Tue 23-Jun-09 09:09:32

I think you handled it really well. I would have shouted in a red-faced manner at the other kids! I think your calm approach has probably worked really well on them, IME kids tend to respond incredibly well to being spoken to like a normal human being.

I hope your DS is ok smile

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