Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Friday, November 19, 2004


There's a phrase used to describe a certain type of parent. Someone that is constantly hovering over the school and their child, making sure that everything is just right. Someone that never lets their child deal with the consequences of their actions, but rather assists them in getting through their school years. It's called being a helicopter parent.

I've always hated helicopter parents - actually, most of them are usually moms. You run into them every time you walk into school. They're the ones that have memorized the middle school project calendar and can readily complain about which projects conflict with which tests. (I barely know what classes my kids take, let alone what projects they have!) They swoop down and confront their child's teachers for every slight, whether it's a questionable grade, an assignment with a short deadline or a school policy that seems unfair. They're never wrong, but they're always in your face. They gossip about school and teachers as if it was the latest episode of "Desperate Housewives." You don't make small talk with them, you make school talk. They plan vacations around science projects and march into the school when something changes. Gasp! They're obsessed with their children and they have no life. I hate helicopter parents and I can spot one a mile away.

However, I've found that even those of us who criticize helicopter parents have a bit of a helicopter in our own back pocket. Today I had my own "chopper decision" to make. I had just dropped my daughter off for school. She had been up late last night due to a choir concert. She had cried and anguished over a literature project, but had finally finished it very late. I returned home this morning to find that she had forgotten it. I stood and stared at it. On the one hand, she should learn to account for all of her homework and get it in the backpack. On the other hand, she was running on very little sleep and trying her best to finish out the week. So I caved, I choppered in and brought her the assignment as she was leaving for her first class. I made sure to needle her with a "You owe me big time" as she gratefully grabbed for the assignment.

Did I cripple her for life? Probably not, but I also worry that in those little chopper moments I might give her the idea that I'll always be there to bail her out. I won't. Or that I'll rush to school every time she forgets something. I could, but I try not to. Yet, here I am, working at home, sometimes with a bit of extra time and the ability to save my kid from certain detention. Am I a pushover or just a mom with a soft heart? Or, am I just another version of a helicopter parent?


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