to hover or not to hover

Helicopter Parent (because Wikipedia is the authority on everything, duh)

I really think this is my biggest struggle as a parent. I never know just how much space I need to give my kids to let them grow and experience, but not too much so as to let them hurt themselves. it really is a balance and a very hard one to achieve. honestly though, I thought it’d be my easiest task as a parent (before I actually became one- sounds about right).

having had 2 so close together (16 months) and not being proficient in fission, I’ve always had to let one of my birdies get a little further from the nest than I am necessarily comfortable with. being that j is the oldest, you’d probably think that it’d be him always that ventures out, but I really think it might be the other way around. c is fearless and carefree and j tends to be a little more concerned with getting mommy’s approval. that need for positive feedback (that c doesn’t need as much of) usually means that he circles back to me a little more often. and also meaning that I tend to helicopter over him without even knowing that I do it.

today, for example, we were at the Natural History Museum in ATL where they have a children’s play and explore area. I’d say a conservative estimation of kids in the room were 35. of those 35 kids, I’d guess 25 were 7+ years old with exactly 1 child being 1 years old. guess who? now, you’re probably already having heart palpitations at the idea that I let c run around alone in a room with 35 kids who were mostly all significantly older than her. but, I did. I hung with her for a good 5 minutes and just kinda made sure that she wasn’t being trampled and that mommy wasn’t going to have to cut any kindergarteners that hurt my baby and then I just let her go. I was scared at first, but i made myself step back and have a seat at a distance.

you know what happened next? nothing and everything. I got to watch her interact with other kids at a distance and see her little hamster running practically off the wheel with excitement. I saw her fall. I saw her get back up. I saw her share. I saw her hug. and I saw her run. a lot.

it was just such a wonderful time for me to see her just being her without mommy lurking over her shoulder and telling her what to do. she was sweet and kind and fearless and wonderful. it was a mini-validation that my c has some integrity and a sunny disposition and it felt good to breath a momentary sigh of relief that maybe I’m not screwing her up too bad afterall. she is so different from j that I do often worry about that. hey. I’m just being honest 😉

the same goes for j mostly. he ran in and took off but was close enough by that I could keep an eye on him. there was a moment at the very beginning that he literally shoved a kid twice his size out of his way to get at an activity and I had to correct him. he took it on the chin and kept on trucking.

that’s really my biggest fear with letting him go out on his own a bit. I know that if I keep him close by, I can temper any unattractive behavior with a correction. if he is on his own, he’s potentially the aggressive kid, or the bully, or the whiney kid, or the stinky kid, or the mean kid, or the… you get the drift. sending him out into the world means I have to be confident that I guided him to be the kind of boy that I know he is- and hope everyone else sees too. now, that’s stressful. none of us wants to have the creepy kid that nobody wants to play with. and I know that’s why I like to hover over what he’s doing. complete honesty from me, folks.

sometimes, like today, I gotta just let him go too and hope for the best. he did great today. he shared and he waited his turn (after the initial correction) and he was just sweet as pie.

what a treat I was rewarded with in getting to see both of my babies in their element and handling themselves so well. I love to watch them when they don’t know I’m looking.

so, even though my helicopter tendencies kind of move into overdrive often, I really try to do my best to let them be.

as their mommy I never. ever. want them to fail. or be hurt. I’d love put them in my joey pouch and always protect them. however, isn’t my whole job as a parent to train them right and to eventually send them out into the world? I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t allow them opportunities to fail and learn from it. or to fall and get back up.

I guess it’s time to give my rotors a rest.

p.s. I’m waaaaayyy to tired to proofread. I apologize if it looks like a drunk 4th grader wrote this. I’ll proofread tomorrow or sometime tonight when my kids wake me up. g’night

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