Living a fairly sheltered life in New England, Vesta had learned as a young academic how to be a good guest and subsequently had made use of others’ couches, guest rooms, and makeshift lodgings in barns and garages all over the United States and Europe.
She’d learned that showing up with a gift of gratitude helped ease any inconvenience, and though she was far from those days as a young woman, her trip to New York City was an opportunity to share a lovely handmade delight with her new friend Scarlett. The wee quilted pendant was stunning; Vesta almost couldn’t give it away!
She parked her Model A. She and Velma gathered their weekend bags and took the elevator up to Scarlett’s large rent-controlled apartment near the top of the building.
Vesta pulled off her leather gloves to shake hands with Scarlett.
“Thank you so much for letting us take over your space, Scarlett. You’re a dear for being so generous — and so easy-going. I brought you a thank you gift, but don’t feel pressured to like it; I nearly kept it for myself! Hopefully it will bring us all luck while we apartment hunt.”
Scarlett smiled and started to unwrap her present.
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.