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?

21 thoughts on “Laughing at, not laughing with

  • Lindy

    I think you did the right thing. Letting them know how disappointed you are and how dangerous it was. Also explain to them that no matter how much someone else things something is funny they need to do what they know is the right thing to do. It’s a lot for little ones’ to understand but hopefully if you stay on message every time it happens it will finally sink in. Sending lots of love.

    • admin

      Lindy » You are right, I know consitancy is the key, it is just hard, I would normally talk though this sort of stuff with Mum

  • Nickie

    Rein in the “freedom” for an allotted time and then back to the strict boundaries, only letting him/them a bit further when there is mutual trust again.

    • admin

      Nickie » I have grounded them both. I will let them out another time within a smaller area. It is a hard balancing act, as I want to let them roam, but only within set areas. I would be OK with Maxi doing somethings, but not mMini, but he wants to be the same as his brother

  • Susan Mann

    You definitely did the right thing. I am the same as you with two boys but 2 years apart. Mine aren’t at the go out and play on their own stage yet but I dread to think what it will be like. I think you have to trust the will look after each other and not break the boundaries, I think you have shown that if they break the rules there are consequences. Its so hard. Hugs x

    • admin

      Susan Mann » I find it hard letting one do and not the other, so I need to find a happy medium. I was disappointed in Maxi for not looking after his little brother, so we had that chat too

  • Dirtgirl69

    I think Lindy has it right, don’t think there is much to add to her wise words.

    • admin

      Dirtgirl69 » Thanks for the comment Deb, I do appreicate everyone that I get. Did you make the puffles?

  • Crystal Jigsaw

    First of all, can I just say how beautiful that photograph is…

    As you know I don’t have any experience of boys so am probably not the best one to comment but Amy has boundaries too. She occasionally goes beyond them but where we live there aren’t any other kids to play with her. Sometimes I think that’s for the best and sometimes I don’t. Children at Mini and Maxi’s ages are vulnerable and if they think they are making older children laugh I’m sure it will make them feel very grown up. It’s a shame to think those children might be laughing AT and not WITH.

    Take care, CJ xx

    • admin

      Midlife Singlemum » No this parenting lark is the hardest thing I have ever done and I am really missing my sounding board (mum), she always made me realise that I was just as bad!

  • Nat

    I always say to Miss 5 is that, what others do/say maybe ok for them and their parents might let them. However we have a different set of rules and they are to be followed. And when you don’t follow them you will be punished like you have done by removing their little bit of fun for a while. Trouble is you sound like a broken record!!

    • admin

      Nat » The boys know that we have our own rules and that we are not other peoples parents and they live by my rules. Both have asked to go out at least 5 times tonight and I keep standing firm. I thinnk that part of my issue is that it is 5 months since mum died and I really could do with a break. Thank you for your comment

  • Floss

    I think you handled that exactly right with the boys. But what’s going on in your own mind now, if I’m at all like you, isn’t so helpful – playing over the situation, the what ifs, the meaness of the older children – it’s taken me YEARS to realise that I dwell on and replay the bad stuff, which ultimately harms my boys even though my first reaction might have been an appropriate one.

    Your boys are learning the practical outcome of disobedience and that’s all they need to learn – neither you nor they need to suffer from the emotional grot of playing it all back over and over. So, my suggestion is, Mini doesn’t need to hear more from you than he’s already heard, and if it’s at all possible, you don’t need to think about it much any more either. My boys are getting old enough to tell me that now! Sadly, they are often right – I dwell too much on things that should be dealt with and then dropped.

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  • Rosie Scribble

    It’s all a learning curve, Jen, and you dealt with it really well. It’s only by doing things wrong and then learning actions have consequences that we all learn. They are still both very young and you’re guiding them wonderfuly. My brother was into all sorts of mischief, it is part of boys being boys but they have you and their dad and they’ll never stray too far off course. And that is an absolutely adorable photo of the three of you. xxx

  • swanbythelakeside

    Your CommentsI think it’s quite difficult to get a six year old to take responsibility for a five year old as they will both be quite determined and so close in age that you don’t know who leads and who follows. I know even at the age of 10 I failed miserably to look after my three year old brother properly (he once got lost on a beach when in my care – it was awful)

    I think you are feeling bad too, because you so want them to enjoy being free and it’s gone wrong, this once.

    All the children’s books I used to read, and am re-reading, with hindsight, have chapters where the hero or heroine ventures too far, and doesn’t listen – water is pretty irrestible isn’t it. What Katy Did, most of Enid Blyton, Little House on Prairie, Little Women. I don’t think it is just boys, all children are like that.

    I know I get so so upset when my children don’t look after each other, but it is so difficult when other children are involved, as the whole dynamic between them all changes, wanting to impress the other children etc, feeling impatient with your little brother for holding you up etc etc.. Or just plain forgetting.

    The only thing that makes me feel better is that your child could have an accident in your house and garden, even when you are watching them, there is no foolproof way to keep them safe.

    I would let bygones be bygones and go for a walk with them to the Beck and enjoy it with them, just to remind them how to watch over each other, and play safely.

    Oh, and I used to be the clown amongst my “friends” – and ds2 is still sometimes in the playground, doing silly things to impress. Please don’t feel bad or make him feel he’s foolish, it’s just one of a thousand phases we go through, just remind him that people like him not for showing off and being “brave” and “daredevil” but for being friendly and chatty and how great he is at playing etc. It’s difficult to put a positive slant on it, and not somehow make them feel they’ve humiliated themselves when you criticise.
    Maybe it is enough just to say, you are not allowed to do x y and z and not mention the showing off side of it. I think when you are a child it helps to know you are NOT allowed to do some things, whatever anyone outside the family says.

  • swanbythelakeside

    Your CommentsP.S. I think Floss has said it perfectly. At five all Mum’s hopes and fears can be too much to handle.

  • Liz@VioletPosy

    I think you did the right thing as well. It’s so hard to get the freedom/safety balance right but I think you’re doing a great job xx

  • Carole

    I think you handled the situation well Jen, It’s not easy is it. I have two boys who are 4 years apart and this has brought difficulties too. My youngest has always found it soooo unfair that his older brother can do more and go further a field than he can. This though is just life and and as much as it has brought many tears and tantrums over the years, I have just had to stick to my guns and follow what I know is right.

    My boys have had a lot of freedom too, but have always had set boundary’s and yes sometimes they have broken the rules just like yours boys did and they have been punished. Children will always push the boundary’s to see how much they can get away with and it is up to us to keep them on the straight and narrow.

    We have years of it ahead of us still Jen, and like you I wish I had my lovely Mum here so I could talk to her about these things. We can though and will get through these testing times and learn as we go along. Raising children is the hardest and most rewarding job in the world!

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