GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: Halt Helicopter Parenting

By on September 22, 2015

‘Submarine Parenting’ is a better method

Gallopin’ Grandma’s grandmother, Blanche, at the Sioux City Airport in 1945. She is trading in her helicopter parenting for a B-29 bomber. (Photot: Gallopin’ Grandma)

Gallopin’ Grandma’s grandmother, Blanche, at the Sioux City Airport in 1945. She is trading in her helicopter parenting for a B-29 bomber. (Photot: Gallopin’ Grandma)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A recent email from my friend LaWanda back in my hometown of Corn Cob, Iowa, relates the details of the latest Corn Cob nut attack. It seems that her cousin, Tiffani Tidwell, has ignited a firestorm of sorts. Apparently Tiffani took her 6-year-old demon child, Lance, to lunch at the Coffee Cup Cafe. The Coffee Cup is not really a lunch place, but one of those small-town places where nothing ever changes, including the clientele and waitresses. It’s mostly a place where a lot of old men sit around, drinking all the coffee, and getting in everyone’s way. They occasionally change the dead flies in the window, but that’s it.

The story goes that Tiffani took Lance to lunch, and Fern, the waitress, gave him a placemat and a few crayons to color with. He was busy drawing unflattering pictures of his mother and printing all the four-letter words he knew, when his mother let out a banshee shriek and began screaming about the crayons, all four of them. She screeched that the crayons were from China, they were full of asbestos and it was an international plot to conquer the world. The entire planet was to be poisoned with asbestos and they were starting with Lance. While she was shrieking away she was ignoring the cockroach in her salad, the dead mouse behind the counter and all the dead flies in the window. Cockroaches can be dealt with, but Chinese crayons — get real.

She grabbed Lance and raced out the door hollering for the police. I hear she is suing the restaurant, the EPA, the Chinese consulate and for good measure, the Foo Fang Chinese laundry in Des Moines.

I bring this up because it seems to be a symptom of parenting in our times. There is something called a “helicopter parent” because they are always hovering around, interfering with everything, making sure all goes well with their precious progeny. It seems that Mommy and Daddy will make sure effort and badness will go away and goodness and greatness will magically appear with no effort on the child’s part.

I think my generation was probably the last generation that was allowed to do anything. We walked to school, rode bikes everywhere and did just about everything with no adult interference. It’s not that our parents didn’t care; they just had other things to do, like trying to earn a living.

Then someone, somewhere decided that everyone had to be a winner. No losers allowed. Everyone worries about self-esteem, but I can’t recall that we were expected to have self-esteem. I understand that everyone gets a trophy today; when we were kids we knew a loser when we saw one. There are no losers today, though because parents have taken care of that.

The last time I was home in Corn Cob I went out to the farm to see Gertrude, the big momma pig. She is my friend and we have things in common like raising children in an uncertain world. I asked her if she was a helicopter parent, swarming over her children, making sure that all went well.

“For heaven’s sake,” she said. “I have 15 kids and it’s all I can do to see that they get something to eat and don’t get their heads stuck in the fence. They are pigs, you know.”

She went on to say that she was their mother, not Dr. Phil, and it wasn’t her job to feel sorry for them or, if you will forgive me, grease their way.

She’s right, you know. I think helicopter parenting is a bad idea. It doesn’t work and the kids can see you coming. My years as a world-class lunchroom lady have convinced me that the submarine method is best. You just lurk around out of site, and then you burst to the surface and scare everyone half to death. Works every time. PJH

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