“I didn’t give Vesta her gift in hopes of reciprocity!” Scarlett felt she needed to explain.
Velma shrugged. Her gift from Vesta — a gorgeous creamy bag with delicate flowers — had been late, too. Vesta had driven her around, befriended her when she’d first come to the ladies’ rooming house. Christmas had been a good excuse for a gift. And Scarlett? She was just that way. Scarlett gave gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, arbor day, or no reason at all. For a while she’d even given gifts to strangers! But now that Sherman was gone, Velma had noticed some changes in Scarlett. Subdued? Not exactly; but nearly. They’d known each other a lifetime; had once been odd couple roommates.
Velma glanced at the amazing gift she’d gotten from Scarlett: a statement in gorgeous violet, lavender, pink, turquoise. Old friends knew when slightly timid Velma was wearing a gift from irrepressible Scarlett. They would know when she wore this. And though a decade or two ago Velma would have worried, she’d begun to embrace Scarlett’s gifts. Relished them. Scarlett would make a spirited addition to the group of spinsters, if Velma could just convince her to turn her extended visit into permanent residence.
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.