I’ve never been called a ‘helicopter parent.’ I have always tried to be layed back and relaxed in my parenting style. Anyway.
Last year Violet had these little friends, twins, who called her every day after school. It was so cute. They chatted and learned how to actually hold a phone conversation. (you don’t sit and watch the television, say nothing, then go, “Kay, bye.”) One day Violet thrust the phone into my hand and said, “Marina and Sabrina’s* mom wants to talk to you. We want to have a play date.” Eventually a grown up came on the phone.
She didn’t introduce herself, just said, “What day would Violet like to get off the bus with Marina and Sabrina?”
I have never spoken with you. I’ve never laid eyes on you. I don’t know your name. Know where you live. Know if you are a convicted child molester, serial killer, have Hannibal Lector living in your basement. I thought we’d get together for an afternoon coffee while our girls played, not just drop one off on the door step like a FedEx package.
There was a long, uncomfortable silence while all this played out in my head, then I cleared my throat and said, “Oh, well, we’re SO busy, it’s just crazy! And with the other two kids I have? Nuts! Insane! So would it be OK with you if the girls played here?” And the woman said, “Which twin do you want to play with?”
I’m sorry? I’m going to ‘choose’ a twin? How would that conversation go? “Well, Sabrina, Miss Kim thinks you’re going to be the best behaved, so you get to go to Violet’s house. Better luck next time, Marina!” No, thank you. So I told her we’d have our play date with both twins, and wasn’t I awesome?
Great she said, which bus stop were we? She’d just write a note and the girls would get off with Violet. She hadn’t even asked my name, where I lived, or what my phone number was. So I just blurted out, “Great. Uh, what’s your name? My name is Kim by the way. And would you like to know my address?
So you can come pick the girls up?” She wasn’t the least bit shocked by this. Like, if you’d said this to me, I would have been all, “What? Oh my gosh! I am so sorry! How did I not get that information from you??” Not this woman. She just said, “My name is Marsha, I’m the girls grandmother. I’ll pick them at 6 o’clock.”
The girls came over, they had a lovely time playing together. Around 5:30 the phone rang and it was the grandmother, asking for my address again. She’d lost it and didn’t know where I lived.
When the mom came in to get the girls she gathered them up, smelling heavily of smoke and perfume. So much so that I had to stand away from her. I was all sorts of judgey. Yes I was. She said Violet was welcome at her home for the next play date, which Violet heard. So all three girls began dancing around in anticipation. Uhm I don’t think so. I just smiled and said, “Yes, well, your girls are welcome here anytime. We’d love to have them play here again.”
Then I went all helicopter mom, and right or wrong, began not answering the phone every time they called. Only sometimes. Violet still saw them on the bus, so I didn’t totally cut them out of her life. But I gradually pruned them out. A year later and they do not play together. Violet has made different friends and is fostering play dates — with mom’s who want to know me before allowing their children in my home.
Helicoptor parenting: judge away!