We live on the edge of a busy town, but right by the shore and with lots of green space around us. There is a little park behind Ben's old infant school in a nice estate. I've been desperate to get Ben "playing out" for ages now. "Just go up the park after school, see who's there," I'd say. Occasionally he would, but he said "I'm more of a homeboy!" No you're bloody well not, not if I have anything to do with it. You will not come home after school and fester in your bedroom playing the X Box.
So he did start to go up to the park. There are a few kids who are in his year (5) who live nearby. I don't know all of them. The first day he came back and said everyone rode off and left him after he "accidentally" kicked his mate in the bits n bobs whilst on the swing. They had an argument on Instagram about it afterwards, but made up the next day. Then someone else kicked his ball into the hedge and wouldn't get it out, so his dad had to go up and fish it out. Once while another friend was round, they played up the park and the park boys were picking on Ben's friend, who I was responsibel for. I was up there too, but not in earshot, but I took them home. Another day, he'd been punched in the face by his mate's older brother. Apparently he'd kicked the ball "too hard" at him. Then the last straw was a couple of 18 year olds who kicked his mate's bike and he hit his head when he fell.
This was only over the last two weeks! And it's not including all of the girlfriend/boyfriend business that goes on in the park and on Instagram. When I say "goes on", I mean they play on their bikes and hit each other with sticks!
Each day he came home with a different story, I felt more and more uneasy. What was I doing to him? Had I pushed him too much to play out? Was he really a homeboy? Was I making him feel it's OK to be beaten up just so he can have mates at the park? Should I stop him going? Were they all bad news?
We've had two sessions at the park now where he's come home with no fights - and with the same girlfriend! This is what I call a result! I've sorted it in my head after talking to some friends of mine.
- He's still talking to me about it. The time to worry is when he won't share.
- He's not upset.
- It's the pecking order thing. They have to work out who's who. (I'm a girl, we didn't do quite the same things when I was growing up!)
- Having a fight at the park is still better than festering in his room playing X Box!
We no longer have dinner altogether every night. It's kept warm for him and he fills up on snacks beforehand too. But this is OK. It's part of him growing up. I can accept that. For now...