I am prone to helicopter parenting.
We're in this "hate on helicopter parents" trend right now, so now I'm all desperate to keep my helicopter parenting a secret. Except for the part where I blare it on the Internet. Matt and I took a long walk this evening, filling the girls up with fresh air, and we passed a group of boys, somewhere in the 8-10 age range, playing on the railroad tracks, which, of course, run along side a creek. As soon as I catch sight of the boys, I gasp. I'm all Oh my gosh, they are too young to be out here! Would they stand far enough away from the tracks when a train comes by? What if one fell into the creek! That boy didn't even look both ways before he ran that scooter right into this road! I'm honest-to-goodness playing out in my head what would likely occur if someone really did get seriously hurt. Would that nicer looking boy with the striped shirt run home and tell his mom? Would the one with the mohawk peer pressure in the injured kid into keeping it quiet? Please tell me 8-10-year-olds know what to do in case of an emergency!
There are always trends that are easy to buck and trends that draw us in. I am so not tempted by the crop tops and geometric patterns that are currently filling up the display windows at the mall. I don't feel guilty that my three-year-old gets screen time regularly, and I feel no pressure to whip up organic snacks for my kids. In fact, today's thought process went something like this: It's afternoon snack time...Hmmm... Whole wheat crackers? A grapefruit? A bag of M&Ms? By the way, you only need eight teeth to take down an M&M.
But then other trends...like skinny jeans and boots? Shirt dresses? When flares and long, layered shirts started to go out of style, I just about panicked. And then there's helicopter parenting. When our bank opened up a local branch, I came away with a fistful of the free hand sanitizer they were giving out. I do not let Abigail touch a single toy in a doctor's office waiting room. We do not go to parties where there are sick kids. She holds my hand when we walk across the parking lot of our apartment complex to the car. I don't even think it's a special needs thing. I think I'd hover over Abigail no matter what and I think I'll treat Eleanor the same, even though she's not the first born. It just meshes with my personality: perfectionistic, over-achieving, obsessive. I don't think the kids getting sick will help build up their immune systems (if it did, then why do I catch everything Abigail brings home?), I do think it's bad for the kids to eat dirt, and I give my kids medicine when they have upset tummies.
And when they are somewhere in the 8-10 range and want to roam the neighborhood with their friends, assuming my ploy to just stay in our backyard and invent a game with the toys in the garage fails, I have a feeling I'll be trailing along behind them with my binoculars, rocking my so-last-season jeans and Pantone's color-of-the-year nail polish.