My husband and I are basically the opposite of helicopter parents. We’re mostly hands off with our 21 month old other than lots of hugs, kisses, and diaper changes. This means we allow him to explore on his own so he can discover his own body’s limits. This means he falls on occasion and instead of reacting, I stand back and wait for him to pick himself up and dust himself off. This means he tries out a few things I find slightly dangerous, like climbing rocks or going down big slides, but I let him do it because otherwise how would either of us know if he can? However, helicopter parenting is so expected where I live that others are routinely taken aback that I’m not one of them. So without further ado, here are my son’s 4 other parents who obviously love and care for him and his safety just as much, if not more, than I do.
My Retired Neighbor. We have a low brick wall in our backyard that we often sit on to admire sunsets or to just hang out. It’s probably 1.5 ft off the ground. My son likes to climb and walk along it. My neighbor was over once and almost freaked out when she saw him climbing this apparently very dangerous wall. When she wasn’t impressed with my nonchalance, she launched into a story about her daughter who fell off a brick wall and ended up in the ER and how her Grandson never climbs like that on his own. Great, good for them. You obviously care more about my son’s safety than I do. Now leave my backyard and go home.
Random Old Man at the Library. My son is really good at climbing stairs. He started climbing them 6-7 months before average. And now, he often climbs them on his own without me holding his hand. Our library has a beautiful staircase my son loves because the steps are less steep than at home so he can manage them on his own. While he was climbing said stairs recently an old man came up to me to chat about the state of my uterus (I’m 8.5 months pregnant, which apparently is enough of a conversation starter for strangers to talk to me). He then watched my son climb the stairs, all on his own, with me standing a few feet away. He said, “You might want to get behind him in case he falls.” Oh you know what? You’re right! I never thought it was possible he could fall, what was I thinking? Here is my Mom card, just take it away and turn me into the authorities now. Obviously, I have no idea what I’m doing and no way of knowing what my son is capable of.
Cafe Cashier. The sweet smell of baking cookies lured my son to a cafe counter which was obviously taller than he. The cashier came to greet us when she heard his squeals of delight. Wanting to see what was going on on the other side of the counter, my son stepped onto the molding where the counter meets the floor and pulled himself up to get a peek over the counter. I thought nothing of it. The cashier flipped. “Oh my gosh, no sweetie, get down! You might fall and get hurt!” I think we both looked at her with a bit of bewilderment. He might fall from 4 inches off the ground? Thank you SO MUCH for saving his life! What would I have done if you didn’t point out the danger of peering over the counter? Whew, close call.
Our Handyman. We’re in the middle of getting our basement finished. Our contractor came upstairs to consult with my husband on something. I was in the kitchen making lunch when I opened the cabinets and CRASH! A glass vase fell from the top shelf and shattered all over the kitchen counter and floor. My son turned and watched in interest from his seat safe at the table. My husband volunteered to sweep up the glass. The contractor said, “Don’t let him walk around in that before you sweep it up.” This time, I couldn’t help myself. I looked at him with a dumbfounded face and said, “Nooooo, really? I’m so glad you said that because otherwise I was definitely going to let him walk around barefoot where the glass fell.” I’m not sure he caught my sarcasm because he responded with an “Oh no, don’t do that!” Gee. Give me a little credit.
So, ta-da! There are my son’s 4 other parents. You know what they say. It takes a village.