HELICOPTER PARENT: a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child
This definition was recently added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. I know because they called me for a photo to put next to the entry.
I just sent them the same mug shot they have posted in the school office above the following notice: “Warning, when sighted (which is often) do not aggravate this parent. Allow her access to her children and/or take items from her for her children. Any attempts to limit this access will only lead to additional visits on her part.”
My rotor blades kicked into high-speed this year when my youngest daughter started full-day first grade. That means that instead of being gone 2 hours and 45 minutes a day for half-day kindergarten, she’s now gone nearly six.
Does Mama like that? No, Mama does not.
My daughter isn’t a big fan either. She came out of her hot classroom the first day, flushed cheeks stained with tears. “Mama, six hours is way too long. Isn’t there half-day first grade?”
And so to ease the adjustment for both of us, I’ve been at school a lot this first month. I went on her field trip, I meet her for lunch once a week and I’m dropping things off way too often. I’ve stopped by with a snack, her lunch, her library book, her homework, her umbrella and yesterday with her winter hat.
I know, I know, my daughters will be more resilient if I let them deal with the consequences of their own mistakes.
After all when Ramona lost one of her brown oxfords on the way to school (she threw it at a dog that was following her), she made herself a slipper out of paper towels and she was just fine. For that matter Ramona walked herself to school every morning starting when she was in kindergarten.
Except that Ramona isn’t a real person, and neither is her mother.
There have been a couple of times that even I realized I’d gone too far. Like when my eldest called from the nurse’s office because she had a splinter and the tweezers they had at school weren’t “sharp enough” to get it out. By the time I got there it had fallen out (if it had ever been there at all).
Yes, my children are coddled. In my defense I’m not the only one to blame.
I’m going to blame society, because society is always to blame these days (probably because it can’t stand up in its own defense).
My husband and I (both Colorado natives), scoffed at all the snow days they called last year—most when there wasn’t even enough of the white stuff on the ground to make for decent sledding. We were down right astonished when they cancelled school because of “heat” in August and rain in September (the neighborhoods surrounding our school weren’t affected by flooding).
In my, and society’s, defense, I think we just want to make it easy for our kids—maybe because we know that once they leave home it will be anything but easy.
I know it’s time to stop coddling and get serious about preparing my daughters for the “real world,” but that doesn’t make it easy. Childhood is so fleeting I find myself clinging to theirs for dear life.
It doesn’t help that during fourth grade orientation for my older daughter the teacher handed out a poem entitled, “Growing Pain: 9 is halfway to good-bye.”
“When your kid turns nine and you notice for the first time that it is slipping through your fingers. That it won’t last forever. That your turn is half over.”
I read lines like that and I wanted to take both my girls out of school, rent a boat and sail off to see the world.
But that wouldn’t be right for them—and in the end parenting is about your children and not you.
I just wish the end was farther away.