The Loneliness of Being the Mum of a Naughty Boy

Motherhood is a lonely gig. Day after day, dropping off, picking up, feeding, making chitter-chatter with the smallest of people, there’s no beating around the parental bush, it’s isolating. Mind you, my loathing of church hall baby groups, coffee shop meet ups and general “not great with real people” attitude (one might go as far to say anti-social, but that might sound like I’m on the brink of an ASBO – which I’m NOT!!), were nothing in the social spectrum of isolation I’ve experienced since being the mum of a “naughty boy”.

In a recent conversation with regards to moving Hugo’s school (not sure what I’m on about, maybe see here), the headteacher tentatively advised me that whilst Hugo’s behaviour seemed to be “on the up”, he’d made some solid friendships in the past few months, at this stage (year 5 in a primary school) the damage was done as far as reputation was concerned; the stigma has well and truly set-in in the minds of the parents. No shit Sherlock!! You think I don’t feel the glares at year 5 assembleys, the invisible force-field around me into which no other parent will step for fear that they too might become a shit parent not able to control their 10 year old, or, that I might lamp them one in a raging temper just like my offspring. We’re talking ‘monkey in space’ level isolation – it’s tangible, awkward and cutting.

I’m no longer considered “one of them”, I somehow got sidelined to the outer, periphery edges of acceptable parents – unable to make up for my son’s mishaps through some PTA gesture or even partaking in the parent’s relay-race last sports day – momentarily I became “one of them”, but only as they were an anchor short and my deceivingly slim physique and oddly athletic limbs gave a winning impression.

I guess it becomes awkward, and if I’m honest, I’m not sure who started avoiding eye contact first – was it me? Out of shame for the heinous crime or lash out my son had befallen to their cherub; or was it them? Knowing my son was the only one they hadn’t invited to the ‘big birthday party’ and hoping I’d be oblivious or nonplussed to the painful social rejection my son was now subjected to, as a result of his own poor, impulsive decisions on the playground.

It’s a collective isolation – not one of ‘them’ can induce this parental purgatory – like a pack of wolves shunning a fellow pack member due to a weakness, it takes the stronger, gobbier few to turn their backs and the rest follow suit for fear of being rejected themselves.

I could harp on all day about the deep, dark loneliness being THAT mother entails – but that’s not the point of my tale. My point is, it only takes one other mother to inflate that internal maternal flamingo lilo again. One other soul, who too has bore life, to text, email, message or say – “It’s pretty shit isn’t it? Fancy a coffee?”. Today I received that very message! Did it make me bawl my eyes out in a public place? Hell yeah! Did I send an incomprehensible blabbering message back? Sure thing! Knowing there’s a mum out there, who’s son is in thick of all that is Hugo, that knows all the really bad stuff and is still able to take a step back, realise both me and Hugo are not ogres, we’re trying to do our best, but sometimes things don’t go to plan – fucking rocks!

Please be THAT mum, the one that sees another with a tear in her eye, struggling in a sea of other parents- step up and put the kettle on; don’t be a dickhead mum, cos afterall, no one likes a dickhead mum – not even other dickhead mums!

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7 Comments

  1. Michelle
    May 8, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    My child was also excluded for three days during the most high profile weekend of the school calendar. He was withdrawn from a lead role of the play and dropped from a swimming gala. We are still putting back the pieces of his confidence two years later. His unsupported learning needs (dyspraxic and dyslexic) made a beautiful and vivacious child a fizzing pot of toxic frustration. Whereas you and I can neck a few g&ts or puff through a pack of fags, his stress levels blew up and he decided to Banksy the locker room with ketchup. Sounds funny now but it wasn’t at the time. On his return to school his reputation was nil and mothers warned their children to steer clear as he was “trouble”. Life became lonely- very very lonely. No sleepovers, parties and certainly no small talk for me at pick up. Having made a formal complaint things did pick up and now we have a lot more support. He is smiling again, his true friends (the square pegs that don’t fit the round holes) have stood by him and he is now crowned King of Banter. It will get better. I never thought I’d say that but it will.

  2. Yasmin
    May 8, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    What a shame you don’t have other mums looking after YOU, you are not on your own, my first son ( mild adhd) was always getting the blame for stuff , admit lily he wasn’t always an angel , he wasn’t the only ” naughty” child in the class , and once got sent home for smashing a window , he was with other class mates, that also broke the said window ,but he was the only one that was sent home, apparently none of the other boys parents could be contacted. It was compounded by the fact that it was sports day and his grandparents were coming and he missed it . This happened about 10 years ago and I’ve never forgotten it or the spineless teachers that let it happen . Kids don’t always conform , we are not robots and come in different personalities good and bad .

  3. Gemma
    May 8, 2017 / 8:16 pm

    When H was in Year R he struggled to find his feet and kept ending up in trouble with other boys. That dreaded time at pick up when he was stood holding the hand of the teacher while the others were being seen out because she wanted to speak to me. It was always too late though because the other children had already come out and at the top of his voice announced to all that H had hit him.
    It turned out that H was always the first to get hit or kicked and rather than finding a grown up he’d retaliate. It was always that the teacher/lunch lady saw. It was pretty isolating. My heart would break when he would walk in the next day and greet the previous days “oponent” like it had never happened.
    I learned that actually I knew him better than anyone. I urged him to tell a grown up and not retaliate because it wasn’t fair he was also a in trouble. I didn’t want him to have a reputation and be thought badly of.

    A little while later another mum in the class posted on our Facebook group that she was at her wits end with her son and didn’t know what to do and apologising for him. My heart broken for her. Because in knew how she felt. That crapy sick teary feeling when you see the teacher heading your way at the end of the day. I didn’t feel she had to apologise to me or anyone. She needed to give herself a break. I told her I bet we are all in the same boat in one way or an other. All those mummy’s stood chatting and collecting thier “well behaved kids” but behind closed doors who knows what goes on or what later life may come thier way.

    I accepted that while I wanted him to be at his best in school and to Keep his cool it must be tough finding your own way in the world. Such high expectations to work and conform and achieve five days a week. That must be tough when you are still learning about who you are.

    While I am not a teacher, I am on the leadership team of an infant school and we have children who struggle and as a result are excluded. And while parents may judge children don’t. They are so forgiving, each day is a fresh start.and so too should teachers. To say he had got a reputation is probably not doing his peers justice.

    I don’t know if this outpouring is of any consolation probably not but you are not alone and tomorrow is a new day and fresh start and those mums on the school run and n assembly will one day probably realise that their little people aren’t perfect. They are just children, finding thier way in the world and working it out as they go

    Xx

  4. Becca
    May 8, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    It’s sad that we never really grow up when it comes to playground games. How can grown ups be so cruel? Forget that your son may have been ‘naughty’. No one would like it done to them – do to others as you would have done to you. I am so glad that you had someone text you, and reached out to you. I don’t know you, but I hope that showing support for you will go some way to making you feel less isolated and that there are mothers out there that wouldn’t do that. X

  5. Adriana
    May 9, 2017 / 12:54 am

    For a year I worked as a shadow, it’s like a TA but the help goes specifically to the kid (like 1:1) inside the school and sometimes in the classroom, I helped a kid just like you describe H!, I was the external person who helped to understand the environment emotionally and mentally, sounds weird but the kid I worked with have a lot of trouble understanding his own and others feelings and couldn’t respond like a “normal kid”, he screams and get really angry because the game isn’t going the way he wants & he smashes things or offends people and so on, and of course the others kids were afraid of him, even his only friend, obviously was labeled as a problem, nobody wanted him in the classroom…. his parents were so stressed because every week they received a call informing the “not so good” behaviour, they started to suggest to look for other schools or even getting of early, his mom always told me similar things that you write on the post…they were as you say on day 10 of suspenssion at it seems in the school were glad because they got rid of him for a day…..
    What I’m trying to say is that having external help inside the school could be very good, because the kid felt listened and when he couldn’t control his emotions, reactions and body he could rely on me, and for that moment I acted as a ‘firefighter’ to calm down and organize his emotions, to react in a way that didn’t harm others and himself and little by little the other kids helped him to take things easy, it is a lot of work and learning but helps a lot!
    There are different sites you could read and find very useful help, most of them are for ADHD and I know H don’t have a diagnose, but that may not be as important, because at the end it is another label, in my case didn’t help much with the kid because different doctors and psychologist gave him more than 5 diagnosis.
    I could suggest to read a lot and get informed, because I’m sure there are a lot of mums just like you but prefer no to say anything because of the stares and what people may think they’re doing wrong with their kids.
    Sending you lots of support!

  6. May 9, 2017 / 10:00 am

    My heart broke reading this. I’m so glad you posted about this because learning about these damaging behaviours – I’m so disappointed that there are still playground bully dickhead mums around – makes me oh so determined to never be that person. I can’t offer any practical advice, my kid is the same age as Casper so I’ve yet to climb these mountains, but I have felt isolated when she’s the smacky one in a kids area or the more boisterous one at a soft play. I still get wound up when I see a group of mums with their babies shooting me looks at a soft play because she is bouncing near their kids (it’s a fucking soft play love, get over it!) But I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, that H is also. All of this will make him so much stronger as he’s growing up. And you’re doing a brilliant brilliant job xxx

  7. June 11, 2017 / 8:31 am

    It must be hard. It sounds like mummy bullying when you’re being isolated.

    I’m dreading when Reuben goes to school as I really struggle with small talk and trying to make any resemblence of friendship until I really know someone.

    Glad someone sent that text! When things are tough you need a friend. Hope things start to improve soon

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