Over the past few months we have shared the stories of LB Gary(18) and his BB Shaun Walters. To conclude their story we talked to Gary’s mother, Tracey, about what Big Buddy means to her and how it is not only important for the boys, but to the mothers as well. Here’s Tracey’s story:
“It’s been really good because Gary’s had someone to talk to outside of the family, that’s just for him and nobody else. He’s told Shaun quite a few things that I don’t know about and I think it’s good he’s had that confidentiality with Shaun, so he knows that not everything’s going to come back to his mum. I had no really big issues once Gary and Shaun got together because they just clicked. Because I’m a solo parent, knowing that having a male that he could relate to and talk to was extremely reassuring. To me that was the biggest thing, and if I did have concerns about his behaviour, I’d talk to Shaun about it and then he’d talk to Gary. He (Shaun) was someone that was there for him and if I had some issue I would say to Shaun ‘Hey, talk to Gary about this’ and he’d talk to him about this and I’d be like ‘oh that’s good’.”
Tracey says it was important for her as a mother to know that her son was safe and still able to enjoy the physical activities and male bonding experiences boys need in their adolescence. As Tracey explained, “When they went tracking I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do it with him but Gary got to experience that; it was just knowing that he was in safe hands and not out on the streets doing all sorts of things. Like Shaun taught him how to shave and I’m going ‘I don’t know how to shave?’ It let him go through those things you don’t want to talk to your mum about and you don’t necessarily want to talk to your uncles or your cousins about. If there were problems I couldn’t help with, it was like ‘I don’t know – go talk to Shaun about it’! There were a lot of questions I couldn’t answer. They did a lot of male bonding that I wouldn’t do like climbing, boy things that you go ‘yeah ok, enjoy bye’.”
“I think the mentorship a really good idea because the kids experience a lot with Big Buddy. Gary and Shaun have been together for years and although they don’t see each other as often now, they still have that connection. And they still see each other on a regular basis – not weekly but monthly or fortnightly. And if Gary’s got a problem, even at 18, he will go talk to Shaun about it before he comes to me. It’s a lifelong connection that lasts years. It’s worthwhile.”
Thank you Tracey for sharing your story. It’s very heartwarming and inspiring.