Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins, The Preschool Mommy | Posted on 11-09-2012
Tags: Gina Perkins, helicopter mom, preschool
We’ve all heard about Helicopter Moms. Those moms who just hover about their children – watching their every move, hanging onto their every word, and anticipating their every need. The Urban Dictionary has the best definition of Helicopter Mom ever:
I mean, while I wouldn’t accompany DJ on a job interview 15 years from now, I might just sit with her during her school recess. Ok, I totally would sit with her at lunch. In fact, I did. I totally crashed DJ’s first ever preschool “lunch bunch.” Can you hear my heli-blades humming?
You know my family well enough by now to know that DJ is sensitive, “spirited,” and pretty attached to me. No, I’m not creating a co-dependence issue by being as equally attached to her – it’s just that I dig my kid, and I spend an awful lot of time with her. I could, theoretically, give her a little shove outta the ol’ nest, but it’s just not in me to parent in that way. Why force something when it’s time will come naturally?
And it has. The time has arrived. DJ is in her second year of a co-op Preschool and this year, while she attends two days per week, I only accompany her one of those days. Today was my first official “drop-off” day, and I’ll admit it – I was anxious about it. I was mostly worried about how DJ would do, and had all these fleeting thoughts about how she would be that kid who’d freak out and force the other moms to call me 5 minutes after I left. When I decided that I couldn’t care less if she ended up being that kid, then I’d obsess about all the school shootings to make the news recently, and I’d begin praying that preschools were somehow exempt from the minds of psychotic folk.
My anxiety was compounded when DJ spent the entire morning talking about how she didn’t want to “be alone at school.” That she “didn’t like any of the other moms.” How I should keep my phone with me, and how she wouldn’t get out of the car. I tried and tried to calm her and reason with her (while reasoning with myself at the same time!) but knew nothing I said would matter and that the true test would be her mood once we got to school.
She was at first very clingy. She knew today was the day that I was going to leave. In between play stations, she’d plead for me not to leave. And then, when I felt ready, I passed her off into the arms of another mom whom we knew from last year – a sweet, compassionate, attachment parenting kind of mom. DJ sunk into her arms, and onto her lap – and I very reluctantly forced one foot in front of the other an headed out the school door.
I sat in my car for a few minutes, awaiting the inevitable call that my daughter couldn’t function without me – but that call never came. In fact, to the contrary – I received two separate photo text messages from thoughtful moms letting me know how great DJ was doing (they’ve all witnessed DJ’s sensitivity and apprehension about being away from me). Phew! What great news.
School ended at 11:30, but the kids could stay for “lunch bunch” until 12:30 – where they all eat together and play outside. I decided that DJ was likely beginning to miss me, and rather than making her eat in agony, I’d pop in and rescue her from her loneliness.
Enter Helicopter Mom.
When DJ saw me, she came running to me with open arms, and yelling “Mommy, I’ve had THE BEST time!”
I gave her a huge hug and she was off again – buzzing about the room and continuing conversations and games with new friends. I followed her outside and joined the “lunch bunch” yard duties (fellow Helicopters). I sat next to DJ, you know, to comfort her….but quickly realized I was completely invading her space.
While she didn’t mind my presence at all, she certainly didn’t me – and that should’ve been my cue to make myself busy in another corner of the yard. But, I didn’t. I guess I wasn’t ready to. Instead, I just watched and listened. I watched her play “Family,” with two other girls – all three comparing their bellies and the babies they each had inside of them. I watched her play t-ball, and eagerly chase down whiffle balls. I listened to her ask about other kids’ lunches, and excitedly eat her own.
She was like, a kid. Like a full-blown, legit kid. She was creating friendships and communicating and socializing all on her own. I was watching all these little people just work it out. It was so cool. And so apparent that I wasn’t needed.
The trend continues – as DJ grows, so do I. This was a huge day for us. DJ is learning that she can trust others and feel safe without me. And, I am learning that I, too, can take some space and allow others to love on my girl and take good care of her. This is how community is fostered. This is how relationships are born and grow. This is what building independence is all about.
This is what a self-proclaimed, recovering Helicopter Mom must go through in order to let go a little. And to those moms who did get the phone call for having that kid – please, don’t apologize…it could’ve been any one of us.