Laughing at, not laughing with 21

We are going through a learning curve here in the mad house. I try to let my boys have freedom, I believe in letting them play outside and try to encourage them to be independent, but with two boys who are 15 months apart there is a fine line to walk. Mini wants to be out with Maxi and I want to encourage them to look out for each other. In order to help facilities this we have purchased a set of walkie talkies for the boys, which work really well when they remember to take them out! But yesterday things went wrong.

I have given the boys clear boundaries about where they can and can not go. “can I play at the Bus Stop”, “Not till you are 23” kind of thing. One of the places that is out of bounds is the woods, mainly due to the fact that it is very steep with a beck at the bottom of the valley. Yesterday I found out that Mini was in the beck, encouraged by some of the older boys that live near us.

I was shocked, not by the fact that he was in there, but by the fact that Maxi had come home without him and left him stranded and not told us. Now I know boys will be boys, but there are reasons for the boundaries the boys have and I have grounded both boys and banned electronics to show them that there actions (or lack of in Maxi’s case) have consequences. I don’t want to keep them inside or only let them play on the garden, one of our reasons for returning to the North East was to allow the boys this freedom, that both their father and I experienced as a child.

It made me so sad last night knowing that Mini though he was being entertaining, playing the clown for the older boys. He said that he made them laugh, he was happy he made them laugh, I just don’t know how to tell him they were laughing at him, not laughing with him.

So what do I do now? What would you do in my situation?