Thursday, May 24, 2012

Update on helicopter parenting

So I took my question to the experts: my three sons.

First I told them what I was blogging about which led to the question: "what does helicopter parent mean?" I explained about the hovering and the worrying and the extra help etc... I even used some examples of things I've done and stacked the odds against me as I asked, "so do you think I'm a helicopter parent?"

Without missing a beat I got a unanimous "no!" for all three boys and then both twins piped up, one after the other, "I wish you were a helicopter parent."

I asked why and my sons, who will be referred to as Larry, Curly and Moe on this blog from now on, had adorable responses.

Curly piped up first, "because it sounds a lot easier than how you are."

Larry quickly jumped in with, "then you would do my homework right?"

Moe stared blankly and lost interest.

Then we discussed the crying comment the teacher had made and I asked if they feel they get away with stuff when they cry. I didn't really expect honesty here but I was pleasantly surprised. All 3 boys explained to me in their own way that the rule is if you cry you go to your room til you calm down. One added that you had to go even if you were crying for real.

Cue me beaming with pride.

It was a fun discussion. I didn't end up talking to the teacher, I went in the next day to do it and she welcomed me in to the class and gave me a present. Soooo, that made it awkward and I didn't say anything. Oh well, it was the end of the year anyways.

So now summer begins and you shouldn't have to hear anything related to school from me til the end of July. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Helicopter Parent

(I copied this image from If that's not okay, please tell me and i will remove it.)

Okay, so I'm having a moment. I have a "moment" at least once a week where 2 things happen,

1. I turn into this fierce mama bear version of myself and get seriously righteous, indignant, overzealous and loud.

2. A voice in my head that sounds a lot like my darling husband accuses me of being a helicopter parent.

Are you familiar with the term? Wikipedia defines it as "a colloquial, late 20th and early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.... It is also called "overparenting". Parents try to resolve their child's problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations....Some college professors and administrators are now referring to "Lawnmower parents" to describe mothers and fathers who attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children's workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are supposedly living on their own."

Helicopter parenting has bad connotations, at least I think it does, and so I do not want this label. I took the quiz here to see if I am a helicopter parent. I got this result:

Your Score: 19/30
Nice job! You’ve found a good balance between being too hands-off and too involved. Encourage your child to make some easy confidence-building decisions like choosing what to have for dinner, or where to go for a playdate. Giving her a bit of freedom will benefit you both.

So darling husband, according to the reliable folks at, I am not a helicopter parent.

 Except I'm still not sure.

Now back to my moment.

In the car on the ride home from school today my oldest son (age 7) burst into tears as he told me how he had to stay in at recess because he wrote a word wrong in his planner. He was a little mad that he missed recess but he was mostly mad that

1. His teacher told him to rewrite everything with better handwriting when she kept him in, but he had to stay in until he wrote one word correctly. He felt he should have been told about the incorrect word the first time.

2. He never had to stay in before when he wrote sloppy or skipped words so he didnt understand why today was different.

He then went on to explain to me that when she told him he had to stay in he started crying and she told him, "When you cry at home your parents give in. You need to learn that you cant cry to get what you want."

Finally he explained to me that he missed directions and was scared at lunch (that he would miss recess again) because the rules had changed and that he was sure he was going to be in more trouble.

I was seething!!!!! As I listened in the car I begin to think up ways to agonizingly make her pay for the damage she had done to my sweet darling son. Then, as I became more clearheaded, I began wording a fiercely written letter of complaint to the teacher and principal in my head. As my son described the conversation of how he "gets away with crying at home" I began clearing my schedule so that I could stomp in and very publicly give that teacher a piece of my mind in the morning, and then my darling husbands voice crept in whispering "helicopter, helicopter over my head, I choose the color and the color is..."

So now I have left my moment but I am still in a quandary.

Here's my dilemma:

1. My son does have messy handwriting and I have been asking the teacher all year to keep him in at recess and make him write neatly. So technically I should support her efforts today. EXCEPT, I asked all year and her randomly choosing to do it when there are exactly 2 days of the school year remaining serves no purpose other than to confuse and frustrate my son.

2. I work at the school so going in guns blazing or writing a scathing report means that I am not just protecting my son I am also alienating my co-workers.

3. There are 2 days left in the school year so is it really worth my stress when it wont help my kid in the long run?

4. Who the hell does she think she is saying that I let my kid get away with crying to get his way! She has no clue what happens in my home, this is totally inappropriate to say to my son and should have been a discussion with me if it was a real concern, and I have been saying all year that my sons have begun crying at school(when they were never criers before) and she has been telling me that it is not a concern and basically asking me to back off.

5. If my son receives disciplinary action, such as being held in at recess, I SHOULD BE NOTIFIED.

So, with all these thoughts clouding up my head, I came home and googled "helicopter parent" and enjoyed this article,9171,1940697,00.html and then decided that I am half in and half out of the helicopter parent craze.

HELICOPTER: I fight a lot of battles for my kids, my argument would be that they are 5 and 7 and not necessarily capable of fighting the battles for themselves just yet.

NOT SO HELICOPTER: On the other hand, I let them fail, a lot.

HELICOPTER: I attend or am involved with every one of their activities.

NOT SO HELICOPTER: I give them large amounts of self directed time at home to make whatever mayhem they deem necessary or follow any whim that may occur.

But, like I said, I have a lot of these "moments." Last week it was the unwarranted unapproved activity of feeding popsicles to my children, I mean honestly, who do these people think they are?!?! I ended up not saying anything. but the thoughts in my head were seriously nasty and at least one friend had to hear me gripe loudly as I stomped my feet in frustration.

This week its missing recess.

Whatever will I do with all my free time this summer when there is no man to hold me down and no institution to uprise against? Don't think for a second that I'll lay around idly sipping mimosas. Nope, I'll be busy worrying if they've met their developmental milestones, agonizing over health care options and pushing them to stay educated during their off season. Mostly, I will drive myself nuts with lots of thoughts about these things and put forth little to zero action to actually do something about these things.

Yeah, I dont think I'm a helicopter parent, I'm too lazy for the constant hovering. I'm more of a bomber plane. I sneak in occasionally, make a huge mess of things and then sit back and go over each agonizing detail until I get my plans worked out to strike again.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The power of music

Music has been on my mind lately. Then this morning I popped onto facebook and my cousin's wife had a post about how she listened to music and it changed her mood for the day. Sometimes it amazes me how music can have power like that.

So I've been thinking, how can I harness this power? I've come up with a few ideas.

Play 10 minutes worth of music each day that I cant sit still whie listening to.
Check exercise off my list for the day.

Play 20 minutes of music that my whole family knows the words to. Use this family connection to get everyone to pick up the clutter while we sing together.

Find the silliest most guaranteed song to make you smile and play it every time someone yells or gets angry at my house. Strike that. Consider installing sound system to have make you smile music emitted on a subliminal level throughout the day. This could also be the solution for world peace. Alert the White House.

Create a pump the jam type playlist for combatting the lazies. Blast it from old school boombox at children who have been sitting to long. Promise to stop if they get up.

Institute weekly karaoke nights in the backyard. Utilize this to keep everyone humble, you cant get a big head or prideful once you've belted out "Under the Sea" for all the neighbors to hear and the dogs to howl along with.

Of course I've still never owned an MP3 player and I own approximately 10 CD's (half of these are christmas, the other half are chipmunks and veggie tales, plus one Madonna Greatest Hits). I did learn how to download music on my phone so everytime my sons like a song on the radio I add that on. I have zero clue how to move those songs from my phone anywhere else and even less clue than that on how to hook my phone up to anything but headphones. So, yeah, my musical skills are limited.

But I did play a cassette tape at a faculty luncheon this week. That's right, kickin it old school y'all! Do you remember how long they take to rewind? That's like 3 minutes of my life that I'm never getting back. Also do you remember that they play on both sides? Yeah, I forgot that too. It was a special moment for me.

Well that's all. Just have music on the brain so thought I'd try to get it in your brain too. Now I'm off to belt out "all the single ladies" with Alvin and the Chipmunks. And I'm pretty sure you're jealous of that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Throwing in the towel

O       M         G     you guys!!!! The way this last quarter of school has gone ( I work at a school fyi) I am ready to throw in the towel.

I am riding an emotional roller coaster and I cant wait til summer so I can get off!

I woke up this morning determined to have a good day. I got to work early, my children were behaving, my dogs peed in the right spot and the day was glorious. One hour in to my work day I sat down exhausted to read the sweetest card from a parent at the school and to open a lovely gift.

This week was staff appreciation week which I have to coordinate with a committee of parent volunteers. Its been madness and mayhem but mostly in a good way. I never get anything for staff appreciation. Its not that Im not appreciated, but I am easily overlooked, our teachers are the rockstars of the school and the attention is generally focused on them. To be honest, I prefer it that way. But this year several parents on the committee decided to appreciate me, another pleasant and surprising way to start my day :)

But then I started doing my actual work. In an effort to avoid implosion I ended up laughing hysterically as I went through emails from idiots. (disclaimer: they are actually intelligent and kind people, just not in this moment) One person basically accused me of not doing my job correctly and described in detail all the things I had messed up for a field trip thing. They were wrong on all counts and I thankfully had proof that I was right. The next person sent an email to 20 some people planning an event that said I was unwilling to lead. I am never unwilling to lead, I am as bossy, pushy and overbearing as they come so therefor always willing to lead. No one asked me to lead and in this case it would be inappropriate for me to do so (although I still would if asked) but its nice that now everyone just thinks I refused. Finally there was the third email where a parent contacted me today, the day the project was due to say they hadnt worked on the project and were frustrated that other parents didnt help. This parent never contacted anyone else for help so Im not sure how she thought it would magically appear but now we all get to look silly and I get to go explain to everyone involved.

SEE!!!! O        M          G!!!!!

Some people are so sweet and I mostly love my job, but some people are crazyballs and I hate getting dragged down with them. Ah, but it is the nature of the beast. A beast I will never tame. An emotional rollercoaster. Did I forget any metaphors?

Thanks for letting me vent, I think I should probably get back to work now. My mantra for the day will be "Just Keep Smiling."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Don't you ever talk to me like that again!

Your room is disgusting!

Do not hit your brother! Fine, do not touch your brother at all, ever!

Finish eating!

You did what?!?!?

Turns out, parenting is hard. Did I miss some all knowing parenting memo? Because I cannot figure out this whole discipline thing.

It's official, I suck at punishing my kids. The only things I can really take away from them are books and going outside. These seem unusually cruel and might possibly send the wrong message.

I know this is a problem area and yet I do nothing to fix it :( then every 5 minutes when one of darling angels disobeys I'm completely flummoxed as to how I should proceed.

This morning is the perfect example. Its wednesday which means school is out at 12:15. We have relatives visiting so the plan is to go do touristy things with them this afternoon. Except, when I made the rounds to wake up children this morning I found 1 trashed bedroom, 1 overflowing bathroom trash, 2 unmade beds, and a clothing carpet covering a lovely bathroom floor. In other words, some little angels did not do their chores. Add to that the fact that my oldest lost his school binder again and in my mind it adds up to an afternoon at home doing our chores.

The problem is that this punishment punishes me and my relatives too, do you see the problem? I don't spank so my only other option is to assign extra chores (which won't get done either), make up a fake punishment (we were going to go to disneyland tomorrow but now that you forgot to make your bed that plan is gone) or follow through and be a grown up.

Punishments suck, why can't they just do everything right all the time?