I am not what you would call a helicopter mom. But, I like this about me. However, I might, sometimes, go a bit far in the other direction. My kids are the type of kids that (luckily for me) don’t need my constant, constant attention and can, sometimes play on their own. Like at play dates. When I set up a play date with a friend it is because a) I like the mom and b) our kids play well together. Always A and B.
I like play dates because I get to talk to my friend while my children play with theirs. And we always go somewhere where my kids, both of them, can play on their own. If I have to play with them, that totally defeats the purpose, in my mind. I play with them plenty at home or when we go places just the two or three of us.
I had to explain this to my friend Ashley the first time we went to WonderWild. WonderWild is an indoor play area that is completely padded and fenced in. The boys and I arrived a bit early (rare) and I did what I usually do. I watch them climb, jump, swing, run all around to make sure they can do everything, then check my phone to see if my sister has texted me. Once Ashley arrived she asked a few times where my children were. I would look around, point them out then go back to my riveting tale of getting Uverse or how to watch paint dry.
Finally, I had to give it to her straight. “I am not going to be watching my children. I am comfortable with their abilities and if they need me, they know where to find me. If this bothers you we simply can’t be friends, or you can watch my children for me. This is who I am as a mother.” I told her.
She blinked at me then shrugged and said, “Okay.” And while I think she does secretly keep a watch on my children, she never makes me feel bad or like a bad parent for not watching them every minute.
Well, this week she told me I was taking my casual parenting style a bit too far. Prior to Ashley and her girls coming over to play, Zach asked to play with toothpicks and marshmallows to “build things like we did at school”. This is what he built at school.
You know I love a good project so I got out a pack of stale marshmallows and the toothpicks and told James and him to go to town.
Well, Ashley walked into my house at the end of the project and found, what she deemed, death sticks staring at her. She is so dramatic.
I put the marshmallows and toothpicks on cookie sheets to keep them from rolling around, what could be the issue? They played great with them, kept them on the table and had a nice time.
Well, I didn’t really notice that I had a mixture of toothpicks. Ones with sharp points and one with dull points. Ooops. And Zach had made some death stick pillows for Ashley’s girls and took them (OK, ran them) sharp points and all.
So Ashley did what all my friends do, she swooped right in and took charge. She said the death sticks where done and threw them away. She even offered to try to figure out which ones were clean and dirty. I, obviously, told her that was not that hard up for toothpicks.
Then we just laughed. I am not above anyone telling me something I am doing wrong (with limits; like danger not like dressing) and get so much wrong with regards to parenting. I am glad to have friends that are more cautious than me to tell me when I have crossed the line.
Though, come on, they were just toothpicks. Right? Right?
No? Just me. OK, fine.