I am crabby. Get out of my way before I kick you in the shins, rip off your head and spit in the hole kind of crabby. The snot-filled flu-like malaise of winter is being replaced with snot-filled allergy-based angry energy. After I sneeze six times in a row while clenching my legs together so I don’t pee, I’m gonna break bad. First, a quick trip to the bathroom.
I’m certain this end-of-winter-post-morose crabbiness is expected and generational. My ancestors undoubtedly used this burst of energy to spring clean their homes, pulling furniture out onto the front yard so they could beat the hell out of the cushions. I could use a rug, a clothesline and a tennis racquet right now.
This annual joie de grump is not uncommon amongst only my people, but those across the nation, nee the world. This is why Spring Break exists. For God’s sakes, go to the beach, have a cocktail and try not to stick a fork in anybody’s eye. Because I haven’t gone on a Spring Break trip since my junior year in college, decades of March Madness – and not the roundball kind – have compounded into a plasma ball of angst that can fuel American-made cars, take down sovereign nations and make Spousal Unit work longer hours. “I have to travel out of town next week,” he texts. The man knows. And he feels sorry for those who don’t.
I’ve learned to temper my temper by staying out of the public eye as much as I can. I still might get shot throwing gang signs at ridiculous drivers (actually the flying asshole sign, detailed in a blog from this time last year), but I try to stay out of crowded places, angry mobs and Kroger’s. Yes, stock boy, I DO want that product before which you are squatted as if praying to, and if you roll your eyes at me as I try to reach over you and get the five pound bag of flour without dropping it on your head, then I shall have to stick this rather large container of Tide pods up your….
To save the grocery chain workers of the world, Spousal Unit calls before leaving work and offers to run to the store. He proffers his daily offerings to me on the kitchen counter, paying homage in hopes that the volcano shall only rumble and not erupt. Like I said, the man knows.
It’s too bad that a certain department chair at a certain university doesn’t. She done gone and made me mad now. I’m not going to take it out on only her, though. I’m gonna rant and rave and spit and spew over a couple of decades of condescending professionals telling me I need to back off. This is for anybody who has ever called me a helicopter mom and I speak for the rest of those who have been pushed aside when we raise alarms over what’s going on with our offspring.
Let me make one thing clear. I don’t micro-manage my kids. Never have. Never will. I never hovered over their homework, which is why they often didn’t turn it in. That’s their job, not mine. They deserved those zeros because they worked hard to get them. Learning is more important than grades. My watching NCIS is more important than looking over their shoulders.
I’ve never been the parent on the sideline, screaming at my kid to just make the damn goal, or basket, or home run. We laughed when Girl Child stood on the soccer field braiding her friend’s hair and Man Child built trains out of t-ball stands.
I worry. What parent doesn’t? I pray a lot. But I don’t stop my kids from following their dreams, even if it means jumping ALL of the things on a 1500-pound force of muscle, bad attitude and a brain the size of a walnut, or even if it means (gulp) riding motorcycles and flying planes. I did mention that I pray a lot, right?
I also carry first aid kits and fire extinguishers.
Most of what I do is pay attention. That’s my job and it’s been my job since Man Child was conceived. Pay attention to my health during pregnancy, their health after. Pay attention to the poisons in the cabinets. Pay attention to the scary man at the park who ended up being at our driveway. Pay attention to the moods, the things unsaid, the signs we’re told to look for when they are wracked by hormones and confronted by the-world-is-not-my-oyster understanding. Pay attention to where they go and who they’re with and what are their dreams and where are their heads.
I’ve missed a few things, even while paying attention. One kid was being bullied in middle school for quite a while before I realized it. Once I knew, I started throwing up flares like the Titanic on a bad night in April. As with the Titanic, the flares weren’t seen in a timely manner and not everything could be saved from the depths. I regret not seeing the damn iceberg. I really regret my meekness when I was patted on the head and told it had all been fixed and that I didn’t need to hover. I let go, Jack. I let go.
In addition to paying attention, I usually have a philosophy to trust the professionals, whether it’s school personnel, health care folk or the amazing friend who does my hair. After all, they’re the ones who are trained in their fields, not I. For the most part – with the significant exception of home improvement professionals – that philosophy has worked. People are usually good at their jobs. When they’re good at their jobs, there is a lovely symbiotic relationship where you trust them and they trust you. Communication is had; faeries dance on unicorn horns and rainbows spew from our arses. Harp music plays in the background. Nobody calls me a helicopter mom.
When people are not good at their jobs and they know that they’re not good at their jobs, they project that onto their surroundings. I know this because I’ve gone to therapy and I watch a lot of Criminal Minds. They get more defensive than Donald Trump after a Saturday Night Live episode and they lash out. When their job is connected to my offspring, they accuse me of helicoptering and tell me — or aforementioned offspring – that I don’t need to get involved.
Excuse me? Have you met me? You are messing with my offspring, so I am already involved. Besides, I am paying his tuition, so instead of a helicopter mom, why don’t you consider me a customer. A Very. Unhappy. Customer. Who does not care for the product she is being sold.
Better yet, head of department, see me as a helicopter mom, if you will, but know that THIS chopper is an Apache, armed and ready to set her sites on your lousy-assed program with its shell game of requirements and uninspired curriculum that wastes bright students’ time and our money.
Oh. No. I’m sorry, I am NOT done yet. It’s March and I have allergies. I am in a mood. I’m tired of the grownups not acting like grownups, then telling me that grownups aren’t allowed in their little games with our semi-grownup kids. Spousal Unit and I taught our kids to respect authority, but we also taught them to question it. We taught them that we would have their backs and right now the hair on MY back is raised like a cat being introduced to a python. I tend to do that with snakes.
Perhaps it’s the time of year, or perhaps it’s my exhaustion with authority trying to marginalize everything I stand for, but I won’t be dismissed from the room that easily. I won’t let the insinuation that I’m a helicopter mom bully me into submission. I will own that title because helicopters don’t just hover. Helicopters come in to the rescue, provide EVAC and first aid, and sometimes they are armed. Helicopters are bad asses. Heck yeah, I’m a helicopter mom. I’m a helicopter wife. And a helicopter friend. I’m a helicopter daughter and the next time an arrogant doctor is rude to my mom, I’m gonna be a friggin’ Blackhawk raining down on his entitled ass.
This may be more than just end-of-winter grumpies and might continue past the Ides of March, when grocery store stock boys are once again safe from Tide pod enemas. This feels like a call-to-arms to helicopter parents everywhere, who have fallen prey to the condescending attitude of Those In Charge who try to make us feel badly about ourselves for questioning whether a pig drawn on the white board with our child’s name underneath is truly bullying. When we hover, dart, land briefly and rise from the earth once again, we aren’t only helicoptering for our loved ones. We helicopter for every one. When we’re in surveillance mode, we’re watching out for the world at large. We tell the parent we don’t know very well that we fear his child is taking risks. Or is suicidal. Then we retreat and allow that parent to helicopter.
So yeah, bish. I’m a helicopter mom. I am a HELL-icopter mom. Say it or insinuate it, I don’t care. I own it. Just be careful because this time of year, I’m a helicopter mom on the edge.