First Leave Weekend - a Post Mortum??!

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huggermugger
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First Leave Weekend - a Post Mortum??!

Post by huggermugger » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:57 pm

Hello all

Just to say that I am going to need some input from some of you this evening (if we're all still awake) or over the next couple of days. This is in haste, whilst my son is at his Dad's for a few hours. I have had quite a few tears from him (son, not father...) particularly on Saturday morning as he is saying that he is being given a hard time by some of the others, particularly the third formers. This is of the name-calling variety, some fairly unpleasant, plus telling him fairly constantly that he is "gay" What is it with boys?(rhetorical question!). They are also taking his stuff & throwing it around, resulting in some of it being lost. (Parker pen, cuddly toy etc). They come into his room when he's not there & take stuff, resulting in needing to lock most of it up. He has gone thro inordinate amounts of tuck, claiming that the older lads badger constantly to be given some & has asked me to provide more, saying that it will keep them off his back.

He did say he didn't really want to go back but then I had expected that. We were warned that the going back after the first leave weekend would be very hard all round. When asked by his big sister he said actually most of it had been sorted. I did have an e-mail earlier in the week from him saying that everyone hated him & were calling him names etc, that they threw things at him, that he had only one friend and that he hoped it would stop soon. I talked to his housemaster who then told me that it had been sorted out inhouse and that my son (going to adopt a convention from elsewhere & call him DS - dear son) was much happier again. And I did get another e-mail on Friday morning saying "Sorry about that - bad day". But, as I said, since then he has howled & said - I know I've got to go back but I really don't want to. Makes me feel absolutely torn in two.

He has said "I didn't know it was going to be like this - they don't tell you about all that stuff" He does like the lessons & the work is fairly OK for him, likes the teachers in general, enjoys the sporting activities etc. He has acknowledged that he is eminently "windupable" and so reacts quite strongly if people have a go at him and he is an outgoing noisy character who sometimes doesn't know when to stop. So he is quite visible. But he is also small & unable to fight back effectively & he says if he completely ignores them eg when throwing his stuff about, then a lot of it simply doesn't come back to him.

Feel a bit sick now - can't bear the thought of throwing him back into the lion's den. I am walking a tightrope between consoling & sympathising with him - want to go & crack a few heads together - and trying not to allow him to blow it out of proportion & outweigh everything else that is good & also the opportunities he will get by staying there. I want to say - right, stay here, we'll sort out a local school & blow the lot of them. But I know we can't do that at this point & for what I suppose is fairly minor stuff. Altho I know darn well it isn't minor to him. And actually it isn't minor to me.

I have had a PM from another parent very much along the same lines & I have encouraged her to bring it here which I hope she will do. We both really need some support/help advice/ - oh - something.

However, here is a fair warning announcement: Please, please do not give me lists of how much, much worse things happened to you/your friends/your children and how it didn't really do you much harm in the long run, in fact it made you/them the person you/they are today. Or even how it scarred you for life. I honestly can't cope with that at the moment - my imagination is already doing overtime & doesn't need to be fed any further. And I know much worse things happen. I'm just not in a "thank my lucky stars" sort of mood at the moment.

Having said that, constructive or sympathetic or even bracing messages are of course very welcome. I'm not trying to restrict your freedom of speech, just asking you to be careful of us... vulnerable parent alert....
:( :(

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Ajarn Philip
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Post by Ajarn Philip » Sun Sep 23, 2007 7:03 pm

Alert noted, and a bit scary because I'd hate to make matters worse. But I'm going to reply anyway (can't find an icon for a quivering wimp biting his nails, but that's me...). I'd like to start off with a virtual but warm hug for both you and your son.

I don't think anyone can give you much useful practical advice - you've been in touch with the Housemaster, and he seems to acknowledge that there is a problem and that it's being dealt with. At the very least, the staff will be keeping a close eye on the situation. It's only been a couple of weeks (?) and I'd be astonished if things didn't improve.

My instincts tell me to advise you not to provide more tuck as 'bribes,' but that's easy to say from here.

'Here' by the way, is a university in Thailand, where in general kids don't grow up as quickly as they do in the UK. I've seen so many 18-year-olds wandering around looking lost and miserable for for the first few weeks, and sometimes a whole term (which is 16 weeks here), and then suddenly blossoming into happy, confident members of the community. (I just wish it would improve their English... :cry: )

There's no specific comparison, of course, but the only advice I can give you is to be patient for now and as positive as you possibly can and wait for things to sort themselves out, which I'm sure they will.

You see? Bland generalisations which are pretty unoriginal and probably quite useless. But I'll be thinking positive thoughts for both of you.

Just a final thought. Ask DS to email you every time something good happens, as well as something bad.

Chok dee (good luck) :)
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Post by Katharine » Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:26 pm

Oh, what to say, Huggermugger? One thing that was said to me by my son's housemaster was they worried more about children new to the school who thought that school life was better than home life - they worried what home had been like. This thought did help me, as did the assertion that he would keep an eye on things.

I presume you will have had a chat with housemaster this evening when you took your DS back, and have told him that you are not yet reassured that all is well.

All I can say is that you will all be in my thoughts and prayers during the next few weeks.
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Re: First Leave Weekend - a Post Mortum??!

Post by cj » Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:29 pm

Image

Like Ajarn, I'm sending you a mum-to-mum cuddle and know the feeling in the pit of your stomach when something is wrong with the children. I can still remember the strange feeling of going back after a leave weekend. Within an hour though, everything was back to normal with us larking around. At least the Housemaster is aware of the situation and knows that you know, so will take charge if needs be. Take some comfort in that. And things may have seemed worse when he was at home with you all, realising the difference between home and school. There is a bedding down period with new situations for both you and your son, and now that the excitement of the start of term has worn off and reality has set in, it's bound to make you all a bit wobbly. We can't take it away, but all of us here know what you are feeling, whether parents and past or present boarders.

I don't know if this will help, but we have a leak in our basement and the tumble dryer doesn't work. Make some hot chocolate, open a packet of biscuits and watch Agatha Christie. It's not long until half-term and someone else will have eaten the biscuits! xx
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Post by Mid A 15 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:20 pm

Huggermugger,

From your description of your son he could be me at the same age!

You are absolutely right to be concerned because, unlike day school, he has to live with it all the time and there is no escape. In an essentially closed community what normally are considered "little" things can become magnified because of the lack of respite.

You say the main protagonists are third formers. The housemaster and his assistants should be coming down on them like a ton of bricks and if they are not then you have every right as a caring parent to badger them until they do.

Older children bullying youger, smaller children is an open and shut case.

For his part your son's best bet is to ignore it as far as possible as eventually they DO get bored with the lack of response. It could take a while though and is a very hard thing to do when your precious possessions are being stolen, defaced and generally violated.

I speak from bitter experience and your post has brought back some bad memories.

As a parent you must do all you can to nip this in the bud before it gets worse.

CH has so much to offer but negative experiences like this can overshadow all that.

I know.
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Post by huggermugger » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:49 pm

I honestly don't know what I'd do without you people. Your hugs - virtual, warm & mum-to-mum - are hugely appreciated. And actually, the bland generalisations, the prayers & the reports from the basement all help too.

Reading my above message I'm surprised any of you were brave enough to reply ... thanks for chancing it!

I have just got back from dropping DS off, we took a slow route & talked a bit on the way. I took my screwdriver & fixed his cupboard lock so that can be securely locked as well, so hopefully his stuff will be safe now. I talked to his Housemaster and he has realised that the situation is not fully resolved. Bless him, he has said that it is totally unacceptable & that he will do his utmost to sort it. I have to say at this point that I do trust him.

The tuck thing is difficult. I have sent him with more but told him not to hand it out in response to pressure. Housemaster knows about that as well. But my DD (dear daughter - 21 today!) has told DS that he mustn't flash it about & must generally learn to keep his head down. I have mixed feelings about this advice, much of it based on her own experiences at the local state school.

Anyway, I'm trying to keep it all in proportion. It's not easy at the moment, partly because I'm tired. At least I know the solution for that.

Again - thank you; it means a great deal to have your input.

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Post by cj » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:28 am

huggermugger wrote:I took my screwdriver & fixed his cupboard lock so that can be securely locked as well, so hopefully his stuff will be safe now.
If he 'accidentally' loses the key to his tuck cupboard then no-one can have anything, and he can 'find' it again when things have calmed down.
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Post by Momto2 » Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:12 am

Huge (((((hugs))))) to you HM - I've sent you a pm.

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Post by Katharine » Mon Sep 24, 2007 1:01 pm

I'm so glad to read your post today, Huggermugger. You sound so much more positive, I have been thinking of you both frequently. Hope things will improve soon, for both of you.
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Post by Great Plum » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:38 pm

What I found the best thing to do whilst I was at CH, if I was in difficulties, I would immerse myself in things I did like (which in my case was mostly music and scouts) - as I was away from the house so much, people stopped worrying me and I got a lot of my friends through other outlets...
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Post by huggermugger » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:12 pm

Hello guys

The first thing I owe you well-educated & no doubt sensitive souls is an apology for my spelling of the this topic title. I was so tired & fed-up I couldn't think straight. I knew there was something wrong with it, I just couldn't figure out what... can you tell I didn't do Latin for long? :oops:

Anyway. No more word from CH but as they say no news is probably good news.

I have taken great strength from your words here & in various PM's. I will have to go a bit secret squirrel here & say that the good guys are on the case... thanks to this forum we have gained friends and influenced people and I feel much more secure about my DS at school. I can't say any more!

I have also had a number of offers to meet up for tea/coffee/valium... and I intend to take up every one of them. Thanks to this forum I seem to have found my school gate.

Can I just say to anyone else who's struggling alone, there's no need to. There is a huge amount of support available here, you just have to post a question. Or a statement or even, like me, a bit of a rant. I've hardly been here five minutes & I already feel at home.

I don't have any more words for "thank you"!

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Post by lonelymom » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:59 pm

I've sent you a PM huggermugger.

It's really hard when you see them for the first time, isn't it? You ask them lots of questions, then hate some of the answers. And you try to offer help/advice but can't really because you don't actually know what you're talking about! I'm sure some of what my daughter said wasn't as bad as it seemed, but everything must seem a million times worse when you're away from home for the first time.

Like I said to you I just wanted to say to some people 'look, she's away from home for the first time, just LAY OFF!', but I couldn't, and I suppose I have to let her try and sort some of it out for herself. Now that she has her phone I feel a lot happier - just knowing that she can contact me if she needs me helps a lot. I guess some of the older pupils forget how hard it is at first, otherwise I'm sure they would be more easygoing with the new ones.

Luckily my daughter hasn't had anything like the bad things your son appears to have had, and she loved the school. There were some things that she wasn't happy about, but I'll monitor the situation and see if anything more develops. I hope he's having a better time now.
Last edited by lonelymom on Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
lonelymom :rolleyes:

huggermugger
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Post by huggermugger » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:17 pm

I just wanted to say to lonelymom that I know how you feel; getting the balance right is so hard. You want to support your child and you think you know how to do that but the situation is as new for us as it is for them. We're all feeling our way.

My DS summed it up for me when I asked him whether the bad outweighed the good or vice versa. He said it was about half & half - the bad wasn't bad enough to outweigh the good but so far the good wasn't good enough to outweigh the bad either. I'm hoping the balance will tip to the good side fairly soon. I do still feel that Ch has a great deal to offer him & he does too. We're hanging on in there.

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Re: First Leave Weekend - a Post Mortum??!

Post by huggermugger » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:22 pm

cj wrote:Image

Like Ajarn, I'm sending you a mum-to-mum cuddle and know the feeling in the pit of your stomach when something is wrong with the children. I can still remember the strange feeling of going back after a leave weekend. Within an hour though, everything was back to normal with us larking around. At least the Housemaster is aware of the situation and knows that you know, so will take charge if needs be. Take some comfort in that. And things may have seemed worse when he was at home with you all, realising the difference between home and school. There is a bedding down period with new situations for both you and your son, and now that the excitement of the start of term has worn off and reality has set in, it's bound to make you all a bit wobbly. We can't take it away, but all of us here know what you are feeling, whether parents and past or present boarders.

I don't know if this will help, but we have a leak in our basement and the tumble dryer doesn't work. Make some hot chocolate, open a packet of biscuits and watch Agatha Christie. It's not long until half-term and someone else will have eaten the biscuits! xx
This is my last post of the night - I'm exhausted & have a fair bit of sleep to catch up on.

cj - I love your cuddles, your perspective, your common sense & your sound advice. But most of all I love your comfort smiley and have come back especially to look at it a number of times!

Can someone please arrange for it to join our smiley list here? It made me laugh when very little else could....

Thank you ! (most overused word of the night) :wink:

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Post by sport! » Tue Sep 25, 2007 12:18 pm

Mid A 15, as always, is spot on......it's bullying and unacceptable......keep badgering the housemaster to sort it out.

Good luck.
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