Confessions of a Former Helicopter Mom.
I awaited that envelope like it was the fattest advance check I would ever receive.
It was during those dreaded weeks between camp and school. A vacuum often filled by less-desirable mommy camps.
Day in Day out, I ran to check the mail in anticipation of the coveted envelope. For weeks, there were only bills, Costco coupons, landscaper business cards, a jury duty summons (I would not report for duty), and signs urging me to vote.
Until finally, it arrived. A hefty, ordinary-looking envelope filled with the promise of a cure for nights clogged with backlogged deadlines. An end to those mornings when my six-year-old hovered over me while I “slept.”
Enter the pre-school packet.
The bells were ringing (if only in my head). School was a-comin’. Game on. Let other moms hit the carpool lane at 8:15. A.m. I’ll be there by 8:10. I own that carpool lane!
All I feel is excitement and anticipation for my daughter, for a new beginning and for myself. My little girl was thrilled to go to day camp. I know she will thrive in preschool. Bring on the crayons. Give me those ABC’s. Come at me, sandbox and green Play-Doh. I will gladly drag that backpack home every Friday to wash those cot sheets.
WE are ready.
I tore open that white rectangle like I was 10 years old and inside awaited my grandparents’ Chanukah gelt. I flipped through the welcome packet which nobody actually reads, and went straight to the schedule page detailing the first week of school.
My eyes crawled through the lines, reading the page repeatedly until I knew I wasn’t hallucinating. Having experienced the “transition period” with my first child, I knew for sure what I was reading now was ludicrous.
I read the page out loud to my husband over the phone, hoping he too would be appalled. (I reminded him to be appalled). I called a close friend, who runs her own school. She confirmed that it all seemed a bit excessive.
Before the first full day of school, there would be a week of orientation. An entire week of an hour here, a couple of hours there, before my kid would would finally feel ready to embark on her new adventure.
Among several frustrated thoughts, I considered that this may even be harder for the kids. I mean, what a tease! This was the point at which all these parenting terms had finally taken their toll on me.
Yes, I believe in allergies. I believe in gluten-free snacks and Desitin and NoseFrida the Snotsucker. I believe in pampers, sleep training, and Amazon.com. But this seemed a bit excessive.
I struggled to think of parallel situations in my adult life where I was afforded such luxuries. Between being thrust into parenthood, figuring out nursing overnight and learning how to soothe a screaming baby on next to no sleep, I couldn’t think of many.
I’m a millennial, but I still laugh along with my siblings about how we grew up. Rolling around in the back seat and playing “Ghost” on car trips from Miami Beach to New York City.
It was a time before sophisticated car seats and helicopter parents. Before cell phones and DSL internet. It was a time when parents sent their children outside to play and trusted they would return safely. A time when games were played on boards, not screens. Before social media and megillahs of guidelines.
I often feel that children back then stood more on their own, without the incessant pats on the back or cries of “great job!” for tossing out a finished cereal bowl or some other menial task.
Are we raising children to sink before giving them an opportunity to swim? Are we raising children to be powerless in the face of adversity? I don’t know. I do know that a one-week transition period is a lot of transitioning.
Yes, I’m the mom who yells my son’s name three times so he’ll turn around and say goodbye on the school stairs. I’m the mom who hugs and hugs, leaving trails of kisses all over my daughter’s face. But sometimes, kids need a little nudge and the space to learn some lessons on their own. Sometimes, it’s OK to forgo the “transition.”
I trust our school, and in the few hours she has attended so far, my little peanut seems very happy. But I wonder if she’ll expect me to pick her up after a couple of hours when full school days officially begin.
You can email me about how it all went. But, I must warn you. I probably won’t check my emails for a couple of days during that first week.
I’ll be transitioning.