William is now in the first year of senior school (age 12), and I think that the adjustment from junior school has been quite a big one for him and his classmates. There have been, within the class, a few teething problems.
These are slowly being ironed out, and generally the kids seem OK, but William did mention to me a few weeks ago that one of his close friends, let’s call him Sam, was ‘a bit angry and unhappy’. When I asked him to elucidate on this, he was unspecific, but just generally felt that Sam was a bit out of sorts.
I didn’t think much more of it, until one of the mums at school, quite a close friend of mine, came and sat in my car for a chat while we were waiting for the kids to come out of school last week, and said ‘Have you heard about Sam’s Dad? Isn’t it awful?”
Apparently Sam had told his friends that his Dad has lung cancer. I was horrified, particularly as Sam’s Dad is only in his late 30s, and as soon as Will came out of school, I asked him about it.
Will confirmed that Sam had told him the same thing, but added that he wasn’t sure it was true, though he couldn’t put his finger on why he thought that.
The more I thought about, the more doubtful I was about the truthfulness of the story – I had spent quite a long time chatting to Sam’s Dad only the previous week at Parents’ Evening, and he didn’t appear ill in any way, in fact he and Sam’s mum were both in excellent spirits, laughing and joking.
A couple of days later, Sam told his friends that his Dad had been taken to hospital by ambulance at 2 a.m. the previous night. Will told me that he thought this time that it definitely wasn’t true, and that Sam was making it up.
I turned it over and over in my mind, and couldn’t decide whether I ought to speak to Sam’s parents about the whole thing.
Will and Sam have been friends since they were 4, and we are good friends with the parents – they’ve been round here for dinner, and we’ve been to lots of social things together – but I just didn’t know how they would take this from me – would they think I was stirring up trouble or poking my nose into their business?
After a weekend of indecision, my mind was made up by the fact that if it was William was making up stories about Ashley or me having cancer, I would want to know about it, to be able to find out the root cause – because surely there’s some underlying issue going on for a 12 year old to be saying that sort of thing to his friends?
So I phoned Sam’s Dad (Sam goes on the school bus, so I never bump into his parents at school) and told him what Sam had been saying, and why I felt I should tell him. He assured me that he was in good health (thank goodness), and he was obviously very taken aback by the whole thing. Luckily, however, he took my phone call in the spirit I made it, and didn’t seem offended by my intervention. He said that he and Sam’s mum would chat to Sam to find out what was going on.
That was a couple of weeks ago, and there haven’t been any more ‘stories’ at school, so hopefully any issues have been sorted out.
But I still don’t really know if I did the right thing. Would you have phoned and ‘told’, or would you have kept well out of it?