Helicopter Parenting

Week 36: Helicopter Parent
Week 36: Helicopter Parent (Photo credit: WilliamsProjects)


We met when we were just seventeen.

It was an innocent time. Up until then I had been locked away in an all girls’ boarding school, he in the boys equivalent. He had only thought about sport; I was like a bitch on heat.

The stars must have aligned..

I spotted him in my French class one day as he was conjugating the verb avoir. He had a beautiful French accent, stunning green eyes…. and hair, back then.

Our very first ‘date’ was in the coffee shop down the road from the school – some of his friends orchestrated it, because he was obviously incapable. As ‘Zoom’ played on the radio, we shyly tucked into our hot chocolates and gazed awkwardly into each other’s eyes. He looked terrified; I felt like the cat that got the cream.

The seal was broken. We fell in love. We couldn’t get enough of each other.

‘Need’ took on a whole new meaning.

We spent every weekend of the next two years at his house. We would arrive, make the necessary polite words of conversation with his parents, (about the weather, the school or the garden), share a polite cup of tea and head straight up to his bedroom. Shamelessly. I remember how his mother always looked suspicious and slightly worried.

And we would explore……..his collection of music cassettes, among other things.

We took it slowly. Things were different back then – we weren’t in any particular rush.

And at the end of those halcyon days, just before I went home, my future mother-in-law would call us down from the old man’s den of iniquity and calmly make us pizza and salad; but with questioning eyes. And we would sit in the kitchen, and talk politely to her again, as we munched on our pizza, rosy cheeked, lips swollen, blissfully unaware of how transparent we were. Oblivious to the fact that she knew.

That we were falling in love.

The ADHDer has been spending a lot of time in his bedroom recently with his new girlfriend. Playing her the Arctic Monkeys on his Ipod, I think. She looks a sweet girl, like I did.

I probably always appear suspicious and worried to her, though.

Because I know.

I pace and cough a lot outside his bedroom. I often need to put his washing away in his bedroom or vacuum, when she’s there. I spend a lot of time listening at the bottom of the stairs, shouting up to see if they need anything; I sometimes have to telephone when I don’t get an immediate response.

The old man passes me on the stairs and makes the L (loser) sign on his forehead, or simply tuts in disgust, making whirring noises.

He thinks I’m a helicopter parent.

I made them pizza and salad yesterday, as they emerged from the darkness and heat of above. They smiled gratefully at me; with their rosy cheeks and swollen lips.

And I wept a little inside.

The Pain Of First Love

My boy may just be experiencing his ‘first love’, and if I’m honest, neither of us are really ready.

If I’d known that sending him to a new school would expose his innocence to the wiles of flirtatious teenage girls so obviously on a mission to twist the hearts of innocent young men, I might have reconsidered.

Of course I knew that it would happen one day but with his ADHD and its implications in terms of his maturity, I honestly believed that I still had a few more years of him being all ‘mine’.

You see, we didn’t really go through what Steve Biddulf said we would in ‘Raising Boys; he never did truly reach out towards the old man in search of a meaningful testosterone bond around the age of twelve and discard me, so I’ve become accustomed to him ‘involving’ me in every aspect of his life. And I rather like it.

He’s always been my boy; a Mummy’s boy.

But he is now in the process of de-Mumming me and I’m not quite ready to be replaced by some brazen fifteen year old with pert breasts; who probably doesn’t use the ‘no’ word as effectively as I do.

I know I shouldn’t really blame the school. For the first time in his school life, he seems genuinely happy. But with a ratio of girls to boys of 6:1, (once you exclude the guys who have made it quite clear that they prefer dancing to AFL), he never really stood a chance.

He assures me that he and this girl are just friends, yet he spends every waking moment writing and waiting for her texts, snap chats and Facebook messages.

He has even washed his hair twice this week, something I’ve been working towards for the past month. If he starts wearing deodorant, I may have to starve myself in protest……..or at least give up Oreos for a day.

He assures me that she’s out of his league, that he is boxing above his weight and doesn’t stand a chance, yet that hasn’t prevented him from falling for her charms hook, line and sinker. It hasn’t stopped him trying. Or hoping.

Even I get tense when she doesn’t text back IMMEDIATELY.

I worry about how he will handle a relationship. I worry about his impulsiveness, that he’ll say the wrong thing, or something highly inappropriate without realizing it. He’s still so amateur at reading social clues and finds the implications of texts so hard to decipher. I worry that it won’t work out with this girl and then he won’t want to go back to this new school like all the others.

I want to protect him from this ‘first love’ because the potential for hurt is so much greater for him.

But for the first time I can sense that he is not telling me everything, that he is excluding me. And it hurts me because I know that he may get hurt.

I have thought about a strategy for creating some distance between them. Maybe I could buy back his love by taking him to Maccas this weekend, maybe even allow him a Coke if I have to. But then I realized how immature that was. (Actually the old man pointed that out). And anyway, he may be too busy to come to Maccas with me.  If he’s with HER.

The old man warned me that this day would come, the day when I’d have to let go. But of course I chose not to listen. I’m simply not ready.

When he does let me in and describes their puerile nicknames for each other to me, I want to spit, not share in his happiness.

Even I recognize that that’s not normal. What happened to the idea of parental love being unconditional and all that gumpf the parenting books force-fed us with?

He’s mine. I created him, I’m the one who has dealt with his issues for all his fifteen years, I’m the one he has sought for reassurance in his moments of crisis, the one he has said ‘love you, Mum’ to, every night since he could speak; no matter how serious the tantrum that preceded it.

I get him. I understand how his ‘difference’ works. I know that he might get hurt and he isn’t ready. He doesn’t get it.

She doesn’t know him like I do. She doesn’t understand his sensitivity, his mood swings, his inability to read social clues and his compulsion for eating cereal all day.

I bet she’s never even considered the serious implications of mixing different textures of food on a plate.