Thursday, June 07, 2007

Helicopter mothers

Apparently that's the new term for mothers who hover over their kids all the time. I've found myself surrounded by good examples of them during swim lessons this past week.

There's a little boy in the class after Ella's who is home schooled - I know this because his mother talks often and loudly about it - whose mother is definitely a helicopter. She was hugging and kissing him this morning, which of course I do to my kids, but then she told him that he was just her best friend ever. Ewww.

During Lily's class, there are a whole bunch of helicopters lined up along the one-way mirrored window that looks out on the pool. They watch every move their kid makes, gasping when the kid goes under water, cheering when the kid blows bubbles, and clutching their chests when the kid cries.

I view the time that the girls are in their lessons as MY time. I sit and do nothing, or read, or return phone calls while Campbell scootches around on the floor. Some mornings I walk to the bakery next door and get coffee or iced tea and a snack. But I feel like the odd woman out when I do.

Yesterday, I walked next door while Lily was in her class to pick up a sandwich and salad. When I returned I glanced in at the pool to check on Lily before sitting down. One of the mothers shot me a nasty look and said, "YOUR daughter is just fine." It was like I had been neglectful by leaving for 10 minutes. I just smiled and sat down to read.

I guess I'm sensitive to this because none of my mom friends are like this - none of them. We peel our kids off us and run for the door if necessary at gymnastics or swim lessons or school. We don't hover around, watching every single move.

If I were to tell Brandon about this, he'd just laugh and say it was my own neuroses coming out. He'd say that the mother probably didn't mean anything by her comment, that she was just trying to be friendly and helpful. But still . . .

I can't claim to be completely innocent of helicoptering, though. For example, it's only just recently that I've decided it's ok for me to stay in bed for a few minutes in the mornings while the girls get their own granola bars and juice and watch cartoons. The key to this change was remembering when I was little - I distinctly remember getting up, getting a bowl of cereal and watching Bugs Bunny on weekend mornings while my parents were still in bed. I decided that if mom and dad allowed me to do that, I could let the girls do it too. It's made mornings a lot easier.

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