Velma rolled and opened her eyes. Ah, yes, one of Sherman’s
“baby” pictures on the bedside table stared back at her. She’d known the scamp, enjoyed his company. His passing had been a surprise to her, and clearly a shock to Scarlett. She talked about him more now that he was gone, and Velma wondered if her friend was okay. The other spinsters back at the rooming house had assumed Sherman was Scarlett’s husband, suddenly lost, perhaps in the Occupations. At the time Velma had thought Scarlett was just being impish to let them believe so. Now……
Pushing her head under a pillow, Velma moved her feet to a cold spot and back. Such an indulgence, lying in bed, seemed again to be brought on by being with Scarlett. Perhaps it was the sheer exhaustion that she invoked; could Velma stand up against the exhaustion if Scarlett retired to the country, as they discussed last night?
Velma pondered, turned from the window, and drowsed, dreaming of Sherman.
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.