Category Archives: Helicopter parents

Buckle Up

NPR recently did a story about helicopter parents invading the workplace.  (Read the article here.)  It appears that some Mamas (and Daddies) are going as far as contacting human resources with personal recommendations and pleas for better compensation packages for their children, attending job fairs on behalf of their kids, and sending out resumes without their knowledge.

I posted this story on my Runaway Mama Facebook page (have you “Liked” my page yet?) with the commentary, “I give you permission to lock me a room with a whining toddler and throw out the key if I ever hover in my kids’ workplaces.”  Make it a dozen whining toddlers!  I hope I never do this to my boys…or loiter in their college dorm room folding socks or stalk the campus Office of Parental Relations.  I hope.

I am a helicopter Mama.   (At least I’m not in denial.)  This morning at school, I stood among several parents in Dylan’s Pre-K classroom watching over Dylan’s shoulder as he wrote his name on the sign-in easel.  His uppercase Ds and lowercase As are getting much better, I thought. A mom walked in with her son and said, “Whoa, is there some kind of parent meeting going on in here?”  Dylan’s teacher responded, “I can’t get the parents out of here this year!  No one uses carpool!”  She went on to say, “I’ve got news for you, parents!  You won’t get to walk your kids into school next year when they’re in Kindergarten!”  We all chuckled and then Dylan sneezed and wiped his nose with his hand, so I got him a tissue and told him to wash his hands.  After I watched him wash his hands, I waited while he used the bathroom because I wanted to give him a hug and a kiss good-bye before I left.  Because if I left before he came out of the bathroom, he might be upset that he didn’t get to see me one more time.  Oy.

Last week, Dylan got a new car seat.  It’s a booster seat that simply uses the seat belt from the car. There is no base, no five-point harness, and no LATCH.  When unbuckled, the seat isn’t attached to anything.  If it had wings it could fly away.  If it had a propeller it could be a helicopter (like me).  

This new booster seat signals a new era.  Dylan’s previous car seat was so heavy and complicated to install that once we got it in the car, we only removed if it was absolutely necessary.  If there was an orange cracker crumb village growing underneath the seat (and there was), it would grow uninterrupted until we replaced the car seat or bought a new car.  And speaking of new cars, with this new, free-floating booster seat, we have many more non-minivan cars-with-a-third-row options!

The first morning Dylan used the new seat he told me, “This is my third car seat.”  I thought about it and said, “Actually, it’s your fourth.  You just don’t remember the first one because you were so little.”  And then it hit me.  Soon, Dylan will sit on a backless booster in the car.  Then no booster at all.  Then in the front seat with me.  He’ll ride his bike to school and walk to a friend’s house by himself.  He’ll go to sleepover camp and ask me to drop him off at the movie theater or the mall.  He’ll learn how to drive (gasp!), and I’ll beg him to buckle his seat belt every time he gets in the car (and secretly wish there was a five point harness and LATCH to keep him safe).  I’ll tell him to avoid the highway and  never drink and drive.  And my jaw will be permanently clenched.  Then he’ll go to college and I’ll be unable to leave his dorm room until his bed is made and his clothes are unpacked. Then I’ll march straight to the Office of Parental Relations to join an event committee and volunteer to edit their newsletter.

I better buckle up.   This helicopter ride has only just begun.  (Thankfully, Riley’s car seat still has a LATCH and a five-point harness.)

**Shopaholic Mama Alert**

Babies R Us and Toys R Us are doing their “Great Trade-In Event”

until February 20th. Bring in any old baby equipment – car seat, stroller,

high chair, play yard, crib, etc. – and get 25% off something new.

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Filed under car seat, Helicopter parents

Sink or Swim

The boys are taking swimming lessons this week.  It’s a five-day survival program that teaches your child to swim to the steps or side of the pool in case they fall in.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  The kids cry a lot as they are (very lovingly) taught the skills they need to be successful.  Some parents cry, too.  There are actually boxes of Kleenex strategically placed around the pool wherever parents might sit to watch.  If you’re a Helicopter Mama (you hover too much) or a Curling Mama (you’re always clearing a smooth and perfect path), you need to leave your equipment in the car.  The kids are safe and secure in the water, but they have to find the strength and courage within themselves to either sink or swim.

Riley’s doing the program for the first time.  He cried on the first day, but it was mostly whining.  He’s doing great now and is really getting the hang of holding his breath under the water and kicking hard with his legs.  Dylan did the program once before, but I signed him up again because swimming has somehow ended up on his list of things about which he has a lot of anxiety.

I don’t care whether or not Dylan (or Riley) becomes an Olympic swimmer.  I just want him to break down the wall he’s put up and have fun in the water, and I’m happy to report that he has.  Remember when I wrote about that Sunday afternoon bike ride where for a fleeting moment he let go of his anxiety and felt the pure joy of having the wind blowing in his face and pedaling all by himself?  That’s what happened in the pool this week.  He had another glimpse (like on Fringe when the soft spots open up to the alternate universe).  Not only is he overcoming his fear of the water, but he’s also feeling how strong and capable he is and is excited to swim every morning.

I’m having an “everything I need to know I learned from swimming lessons” kind of moment, but I like to think the hundreds of dollars (and I mean hundreds) I spent on these lessons are giving the boys more than just survival skills. I see both of them building physical strength, gaining self-esteem, feeling pride, learning to keep at it and trusting their instinct.  In my mind, these are priceless side effects of learning what to do if you fall in a pool.

Sink or swim.  (Swarm or dance!)  I hate the idea that either of my boys will ever have to think about sinking or swarming in their lives, but of course they will.  They’ll inevitably experience disappointment, heartbreak, loss and other misfortunes.  It’s not my responsibility to keep these things from happening, but it is my job to give them the tools they need to get through them.  So far my toolbox includes unconditional love and trust, a moral compass, self-confidence, juice boxes, animal cookies…and swimming lessons.

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Filed under Helicopter parents, motherhood, parenting, swimming, Uncategorized