Winter wind spiraled red leaves through a blustery gray full-moon sky as Velma opened the front door to the quiet rooming house and made her way upstairs. She fingered the package in her coat pocket. She hoped getting Vesta a Christmas gift wasn’t too…. forward. And that the other girls – admittedly Velma didn’t know them as well – weren’t….jealous. Vesta had driven her around and befriended her in the dining hall. After all.
Scarlett burst into the room as Velma put her kettle on its single burner. “Oh, Velma! I’ve just done a runner after nearly knocking that hunky gardener right on his backside! Can you imagine?” Velma smiled and took the package out of her pocket, planning to show her dear old bubbly friend the permanent tribute to a lovely, three-leaved, endangered, dainty flower. “And…I’ve bought you the most outrageous Christmas present!” Velma winced.
I am queen of the helicopter parents. But there are enough of us that we are becoming a social problem. Here’s my story.
Thing 1 was coming, they couldn’t stop him, it was only 24 weeks and 3 days. Someone asked: should we try to save him? Well, yes. Yes! Ten days later, a team of doctors closed the door behind us to explain brain bleeds, sepsis, meningitis. Shall we pull the plug? Well, no. No!
Babydaddy laid hands on him every day, massaged him when he was ready. For the three months he was in intensive care, and the three weeks at an intermediate hospital, I would get up in the night and pump breast milk, thinking about my baby across town. Babydaddy delivered it every morning, earning the name “milkman.” It was funny.
We had every therapy going for as long as possible: early intervention, the intermediate unit, private therapies. Terms multiplied: sensory processing dysfunction, sensory integration problems, orally defensive, auditory sensitivities, comprehensive developmental delay, cognitive function impairment, retinopathy of prematurity. He did occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, play therapy; we consulted with a neurologist, school psychologist, wraparound service provider, developmental specialist. He worked with an occupational therapist for a year and a half to tolerate teeth and hair brushing.
Not surprisingly, parenting didn’t feel natural. I learned to read to my baby watching Phyllis, our physical therapist. Voices, commentary, labeling colors, counting… she was very good! Merging professional research skills with my genetic propensity for silliness (mom was class clown, dad’s distantly related to Lucille Ball), my mothering style came together. Eventually. But I still channel Phyllis on occasion.
Thing 2 was full term. They are complete opposites; she is a sensory seeker with a wild sense of adventure and an inventive sense of fashion. Keeping them both busy and happy is an exasperating and sweet challenge. I still believe that every day can be fun and educational while reinforcing kids' boundaries. I’m on a mission to save us helicopter parents from ourselves. No more bubble wrapped kids and guilty parents. Let’s teach them coping skills. Let’s get fun.
I love this! Thanks so much for pairing my painting with these beautiful words!
Oh, thank you so much. I’m always inspired by your blog, and love your artwork.
happy new year!