The helicopter parent hovers over their child’s every move…watching, encouraging, and constantly engaging their little one to an extreme degree.
When I was pregnant and thinking about the overwhelming stretch ahead of me (you know, parenthood), I feared that I would be an extreme helicopter parent. I figured my OCD tendencies would return, and I would never ever let the little one out of my sight for fear of disaster (either to him or to our belongings). I feared that I would feel obliged to constantly be down on the floor playing, teaching, and stimulating him. All. Of. The. Time.
Then my little Boo was born. He was sooo sweet for the first few weeks. Then he got colicky, and whether I wanted to or not, I was kind of forced to constantly be near him to soothe and comfort him. Then, just as he got over his colic, the doctors diagnosed him with hypertonia. He had too much muscle tone in his legs making them stiff and difficult to move (no wonder his diaper changes were so *freaking* difficult). This led us down a whole new path of physiotherapy, and a whole pile of scary neurological tests to make sure the problem was just with his muscles and not his brain (thankfully, it was just his muscles…still scared us shitless though). Again, I was forced to constantly be manipulating his little legs, doing stretches and exercises, and getting him to play in positions that would loosen him up.
Fast forward to the present. My little man is almost one year old with more or less floppy legs. He crawls, slithers, climbs and rolls all over the house. He opens cupboards, drawers, pulls out bins and boxes. He’s highly focused and can spend what feels like an eternity examining, manipulating and playing with the same toy before moving on to the next one. And you know what? Much to my surprise, I let him do it all without hovering over him.
It’s as if our experiences during Boo’s first months that required me to hover over him also allowed me to see that I don’t want to constantly hover over him. He needs his space to explore and I give it to him, allowing him to wander off to other rooms (in which I know he can’t get into too much trouble!), and play. Of course I check in on him and, to be honest, our house is small enough that I can hear him at all times….(it’s when I don’t hear him that I know he’s getting into trouble!), but I don’t feel the need to constantly be up in his face.
Which means that when I get down on the floor to play, or pick him up to dance or fly, it’s because I want to, and I can just enjoy the time we’re spending together, rather than feeling obligated to do these things. Besides, by giving him his freedom, I’ve also discovered that he is more than capable of letting me know when he wants my attention – he’ll come to get me, or “call” for me.
It all makes for a much less stressful parenting experience than I’d first anticipated and lived.
Of course, I’m curious to see how this will all play out as he gets older….will I maintain my surprisingly somewhat laid back attitude, or will I suddenly start hovering to protect him from the big bad world once he’s old enough to go out into it?
I guess only time will tell…but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll resist the urge to turn into a crazy helicopter mama.1