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Sunday, June 15, 2014

An Apology to Helicopter Parents Everywhere



To all those helicopter parents I have ever judged (and as a teacher, I have encountered my fair share), may I say I'm sorry.  You're still wrong...but I'm sorry.

Baby J was been doing "gymnastics" at the YMCA for about 2 months now.  And by gymnastics, I mean we pay $95 for her to go down a slide a zillion times for 45 minutes once a week.  No, really...it's great and she loves it and I love that she loves it.

At the end of every class the kids all sit in a line on the balance beam-- legs and arms out-- waiting for their stamps.  Sometimes it's balloons, sometimes monkeys, sometimes it's a rocket ship; always different colors.  They get stamped on each arm and each leg.

I don't get to go to gymnastics with her very often.  Normally Z goes.  I use that time to get all of my stuff ready for the weekly grocery trip but this week I got to go because it's summer vacation and I can do what I want *insert chest thrust here*.  And all of a sudden I got it:  We finished wheels on the bus and the kids (including J) ran over and sat on the beam for their stamps.  Baby J was next to last and she sat.  And waited.  Patiently.  I was halfway across the room watching.

And she didn't need me.

She didn't need me to walk her over.  She didn't need me to sit and wait with her.  She didn't need me to help her onto the beam and remind her to wait her turn.  She was capable of doing it herself.  I had a moment of confusion...like "Am I supposed to be over there with her?  Should I be helping?  Am I supposed to be doing something?"  And then I realized...no.  I'm not, I shouldn't, and...no.

Ok, ok...before we get all sentimental.  She's 18 months old.  The times that she ACTUALLY doesn't need me are still few and far between.  But I know they are only going to get more frequent from here on out, not less.  That makes me incredibly sad.

So I get it, helicopter parents.  I now get the feeling of wanting to force your child to need to you.  Hopefully, though, I can meet that moment in J's life where she no longer wants or needs me with grace.  I will take comfort in that moment knowing that her independence from me means I did my job.  And hopefully next year, helicopter parent, I can meet you with a little more grace as well.

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