Last time I posted I wrote of the importance of Couple Time. Following on from this I wanted to discuss respite. Not official respite; but an understanding between friends that can prove more meaningful and health-giving than most.
When my son started Secondary School this year I was (apart from a near-wreck through the fear and stress of transition) really worried about his social situation. We were lucky in that a few boys from primary school were moving across together, but I really wondered if, and how, he would make any new friends. He is not the one to initiate social interactions.
Not long after starting school, Mr12 told me about a boy in the year above called A he’d met in the library at lunchtime. (Many of the younger kids hang out in the library at lunchtime- they can play Chess or even handheld games, which is encouraged.) He’d made a friend over Pokemon!
Within weeks, Mr12 was invited to A’s birthday party. It was a sleep over. This caught me off-guard- a sleep-over invitation by a boy I’d never met, (let alone the parents), nor been to their house… it was concerning. However I rang and asked if I could hang around a bit, meet them and see if my boy was happy to stay.
What happened was serendipity. A’s parents were lovely and very much switched on. They’d wanted A to take responsibility for his own party invitations as an independence exercise. A was a very similar kid to my own- in nature, temperament and behaviour. After only a relatively short time observing the boys together and watching A’s parents’ handling of them, I was happy. I felt relief. I felt comfortable. I felt understood!
My boy had only ever stayed at one friend’s house overnight before but everyone was happy to go ahead with it. I was only a few blocks away anyway. I can’t explain the elation and the sense of a load off my shoulders as I drove away. Not only did my boy suddenly have a new friend, but I’d found others in whom I had deep trust and mutual understanding- despite the fact we’d just met.
A has already stayed here overnight too and although both boys need redirection and reminding to tone it down, they’re well matched and get along great. I told A’s mum he is welcome here anytime- after school, weekends, whatever. It’s not always plain-sailing with the two, but for me it’s so very familiar.
Yesterday I was at my wits’ end. Mr12 had been stuck to his gaming and assortment of screens for literally days. I couldn’t drag him outside. He was bored and he and his sister were constantly butting heads and yelling. What could I do? Normally I’d SOS my Mum- but she’s overseas for 3-4 months. So I rang A’s mum M. I explained my situation and asked whether the boys could meet and go for a walk- or something with fresh air! She said she’d go one better, she’d pick Mr12 up and take them out for an hour. It was a welcome relief. School holidays can be so difficult for us and she understood. That circuit-breaker, however short, was invaluable.
As I’m home I’ve offered a day out treat on their Curriculum Day. There will be more sleepovers. It’s made a lot of people very happy- especially two boys for whom friendships are fewer and the social world fraught.
Do you have anyone you can make these sorts of arrangements with? Would you be able to make that call if you really needed it?