I remember, in kindergarten, walking home from school each day. It was maybe half a mile or a mile. First I walked through a big field at the side of the school, then crossed a (quiet) street, then walked through a little forest (in retrospect, it was just a small gathering of trees, but it became a setting straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in my imagination). Then along another row of pine trees, and into my backyard.
One day I was walking home with my Papaw, who had come to school to visit that day. While in the forest, I discovered I did not have a record (yes, we played records for music back then) that I had brought to school that day, and we walked back to school for it. No record! So, we retraced our steps and found the record right there in the forest, where I had first thought it was missing. Papaw loved to tell that story, over and over.
Usually, walking home was time for thoughts about my day, or time for me to imagine stories, which I loved to do. One day I was walking home while singing Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (yes, I remember this), when all of the sudden an older boy jumped out from behind a house with a pocket knife. I was startled, but not unduly alarmed, and just kept walking.
Another time, a classmate named Ray (I won’t use his last name, because what a bummer it would be to google yourself and find that you came up on somebody’s blog as a childhood bully!) followed me home while calling me a “jive turkey” (a moniker I’m still not sure the meaning of, but remembering Ray, I’m not sure he was, either).
I share these memories with some wistfulness … they were actual events, and I wasn’t unduly scarred by them, although I do remember them. I can’t help contrasting today, when many parents are afraid to let their children cross a street unsupervised, and when every event is thought to be potentially life-changing. It’s an exhausting way to live, I think, and it even has a name: helicopter parenting.
But it may be on its way out, a trend which I can’t help but cheer. The mentor mom in a MOPS group I used to attend called me “the laid-back mom” and I always appreciated that as a compliment. I like the attitude of an online friend whose children range in age from 4 to mid-20’s … she sees her kids as God’s, just on loan to her to raise. It’s a perspective I like – it allows us as moms to appreciate the peaks in parenting while not wallowing in the valleys. Hey, they’re God’s kids … He will ultimately take care of them and just as I can’t claim full responsibility for the good choices they make, neither should I feel unduly guilty about the bad.
How about you? Are you a helicopter parent? Were you scarred by childhood events or blissfully oblivious to them? Whatever you’re thinking, share it 🙂