Velma stepped out of the cozy passenger coach and made her way to the station, scanning the crowd. She spotted dear Scarlett sitting straight upright on a hard wooden bench. Scarlett started and clamored to her feet when she recognized Velma. A great swarm of butterflies appeared in Velma’s tummy in anticipation of an exciting time in the city. The two old friends made their way toward each other, smiles growing and arms rising from their sides.
Long strong embrace. They pulled away, holding hands, and looked at each other smiling. Words were neither necessary nor adequate. “Let’s get a cab,” Scarlett bubbled, nodding. She started toward the door while Velma reached for her clutch and cab fare. Staying with Scarlett would undoubtedly be expensive, but Velma was so happy to be there, she’d have emptied her savings if she had to. She did love the countryside, but her quirky sparkly friend always made her giddy with happiness. Now to persuade her of the charms of a rustic rooming house life!
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.