The three finished off their leftover Chinese food. Velma even looked forward to it this time. They laughed at the real estate agent’s son filling in for his dad, at some decorating faux pas, and again at Sonny.
Velma padded into the kitchen to do the dishes; Scarlett followed.
“I’m sorry to be so reticent, Scarlett. I finally found good homes for all my Gram’s furniture, and now, well, I can’t replace any of it! Not financially, and not emotionally.” Her eyes filled, but the tear did not drop.
Her dear old friend raised her eyebrows. “Dear. You know I’m about to downsize rather substantially. Would you allow me to shlep some furniture from my place to our place?” Velma rolled her eyes and laughed. “Of course! Leave it to you to make it seem so simple!”
Back to the living room to talk it through, Velma noted a beautiful decoupaged lampshade that she’d always loved. Maybe that would come to the new apartment, she thought, feeling both giddy and guilty.
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.