This isn’t much of a confession as it is a realization that I’ve had for some time now. I’m a helicopter Mom. I’m the Mom that some recently shared blog posts are talking about. The hovering Mom at the park. The one who can’t seem to relax. The one who thinks her kids are going to hurt themselves more often than not. Raising hand. I admit it. Although I’m not so extreme as to shield them from all of life’s disappointments (eg. they are responsible for their own school projects with minimal assistance). Nor do I feel the need to protect non-helicopter parent’s children. In fact, I will happily separate myself out from those Moms who need to hover over other children. I’ve got two kids and that’s enough for me. You’re in charge of your own!
With that being said, I don’t think helicopter Moms are necessarily as bad as they’re made out to be. However, I do realize that I need to step back a bit and let my kids learn for themselves. As they get older, I’m able to do this more and more, but I’ve been mostly “hands on” during these younger years. There was one instance where I was visiting a friend who had one of those little plastic standalone slides. My son was two years old at the time and was used to the slides at our local park that were wider and had a large platform at the top. This little slide was tricky for him since it was much narrower. How would he get those short, chunky legs into position? I tried to stand back and let him figure it out. With one eye always on him, I held my breath as he looked about to tumble overboard. My friend told me to relax. That he would figure it out. But I know that my son is stubborn and gets pissed off pretty easily. It was starting….the frustration….the anger….the tantrum. I just wanted to catch up with my friends and now I would be dealing with his meltdown and a bruised limb. I didn’t want that to happen so I had to step in. I helped to show him how to swing his legs out in front of him. He slid down the slide with a smile. I could go back to enjoying myself….after a few more tries.
It’s not easy being a helicopter Mom. I envy those parents that can read a magazine on the bench and not worry about what contraption their kid is on. When I visit someone’s home for a playdate, I worry about what my little one is getting into that is either off limits or potentially dangerous. “Excuse me while I remove my child from your bedroom and pry the other child off your poor, hissing cat….” Sure a cat scratch will teach my son to hug it a bit less, but I’m more concerned about a scratched eyeball that might blind him. When I go to the park with my two kids, there is no sitting. I am pretty sure my kids secretly plot against me on the drive there. When we arrive, they immediately separate into the two furthest areas of the large park. Both of which simply cannot be viewed at the same time due to the trees and slides and other kids. I should let them be and let them play. However, I’m sure there are child predators lurking and just waiting for the right moment to snatch up my overly friendly five year old (who can happily recite her address and the school she attends to anyone who asks). I should let my son try the sloping, metal, ladder thing. I should. If only I didn’t have those psychic visions of him slamming face forward into one of the metal bars and breaking four of his front teeth. I am sure that I really do have the gift of predicting disasters and therefore I work to avoid them.
Go ahead and laugh at me. I know I’m being over cautious. I know I “need to let them problem solve.” It’s a flaw….or maybe it’s not. Maybe they will learn these lessons a little slower, but that’s my choice. They are my kids and if I want to avoid an ER payment or even a tantrum, I will step in. Be thankful you are not me. I won’t interfere with your parenting style but I will ask you to let me be. I may observe what your children are doing and question if I could be as laid back as you are. Maybe I’ll even take a step back in an effort to appear laid back. My kids are getting older, taller and stronger, so each day brings them increased confidence. And despite what others may believe, I can see my children problem solving in their own way. I am getting more comfortable with letting them be and someday soon I will be able to fully relax at the park. So while I’m hovering over my kids, please enjoy your magazine and know that I will happily relax on a neighboring bench as soon as I’m ready.