I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to visit colleges with one of my sons. He wants to return to his birth state and always has. It is not that he hasn’t found happiness and friends here; he was just imprinted with a reluctance to change. It will be up to him to come to understand that change is inevitable. How you deal with it is optional. Like me, his childhood friends are the ones he holds most dear and a great many of them still keep in touch.
We toured two schools. Both are well respected. Both have accepted him so he is in a no lose situation. It will be his decision and his alone as to which one will get the present of his presence.
Prior to the trip, I fell into my daily mom mode. It is a mode I have embraced in a knee jerk reaction to parenthood for twenty two years. Did he have a good pair of pants? Did he pack a couple of collared shirts? Do you have your ID? I have the boarding passes.
“Mom, I’ve GOT it.”
Honest to God, I didn’t start out as a helicopter parent. I am not a “tiger mom”, but I do have adequate teeth. I hide them behind my smile.
Everyone who accosted me while I was pregnant told me, “Oh, you will love them instantly and feel something like you have never felt before.”
How do you love someone you have just met? I was very smitten from the moment I met my husband but it wasn’t Hollywood love at first sight. I was smitten with my daughter in many layered levels, including relief that pregnancy was over. And, in this case, there were two of them! Unknown strangers who had possessed my body for eight and a half months. Further, I had been on bed rest for most of that time and looked like the “Queen Mary”; or at least the “Cotton Blossom”. They had possessed my body and made me look like a side show attraction at a carnival. I did not glow during my pregnancy. The rampaging tummy patters knew not to come too close. My husband blocked the rest of those who were inured to my growls of warning.
Helicopter parenting is a skill that is bestowed, probably via a magic wand, and maybe some pixie dust, when we squirt the little puppies out. For the first time in months, I could draw a deep breath. They were so feisty yet helpless. As with our daughter, we instinctively begin ministering to their every need. This time, I had experience under my belt. But stereophonic wailing can be so much more intimidating. And there was still no shop manual. I checked, believe me.
So we jump off the cliff and attempt to be better parents than ours were. Instead of a three channel television, 45s and LPs, we battled the Wii and the x-b0x, homework, and fast food.
Needs change. Often times very subtly.
But somewhere along the path, we became a more intense version of our parents. Or most parents. Every child became perfect, special and destined for greatness.
Thus, it became our duty to protect that magic spell we bestowed upon them by bringing them to the planet.
I’m snack mom, I have to bake and do it gluten free? The cookies have to have smiley faces or I get points off my mom record? (Whatever that is.) I’m reading mom. Is Tolstoy okay? Why not, they need to know this stuff to get into the Ivies. Why is it too early? Can we make a musical out of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream”? We could stage it with a Barney theme.
Do you have your field trip permission slip? What do you mean you forgot to tell me that your lunch account ran out two weeks ago and you are hungry? What do you mean my child isn’t qualified for gifted art? Where have you had a gallery showing?
But the little buggers keep growing and separating. And, I for one, lost track that the goal was independence. I fell into hoverers anonymous. Because you really want to minimize the misery and maximize the goals. We have every reason to be incredibly proud of our children. They take the checklist away from me. They won’t even hear me when I am working my invisible checklist.
They’ve got it.
“I’ve got it, Mom.”
Yes you do. I’ll resew the buttons on.
Maybe I can work on that memoir.
I have landed the chopper.