Oh boy. This is going to take awhile. And with my ADD and short term memory issues, it might take longer for me to get to my point.
You all know what a Roomba is right? That self run vacuum cleaner that just rolls along bumping into the furniture and finding it’s way while sucking up the dirt? You know what helicopter parents are right? Helicopter Parents are parents that hover. Take care of their kids even when there’s really nothing wrong to take care of. In Scandinavia, they are called curling parents. I mean, those Nordic countries know their curling right? So, it means to them, sweeping away problems before they transpire.
After People I Want To Punch In The Throat‘s blog about people needing to be happy, I felt a light bulb go off in my attic. Yeah, an a-ha moment, if you will. Kids are bored. Twentysomethings are bored. So we need to not be so damn cajoling to our kids all the time.
I seriously doubt I would call myself a helicopter mom. I mean, do helicopter moms hope and pray the neighbor kid will ask your kid over for dinner so you don’t have to feed them? Does a helicopter mom hope that the sleepover your daughter plans is at her friend’s house and not yours so you don’t have to host? Do helicopter moms stick Uncrustables in their kids’ lunches everyday because it’s easier than actually making a sandwich?
See what I mean?
On the other hand, I make my kids wear their helmets when they ride their bikes. I like to know who they are with and have the parent’s number. I make them buckle up and sit in the back seat. Daughter has started riding in the front- she’s 12, it’s legal. If they are invited on to a boat or somewhere, I make damn sure there’s life jackets. I would never let them do 4 wheeling or anything hazardous like that. Too many Dateline stories. I don’t let my daughter go with her friends to the ice rink at 9pm on a Friday. Who are you kidding? I was a teenager once!
Safety is a priority with me. But if they have a problem at school, with a friend, with homework, whatever- I will make sure they can solve it first before I step in. Kids need to figure out the world. They need to know how to fight their battles. Some battles I had as a kid, I hated. But I still fought them. I’m not going to make my kid run around in the snow in his underwear to learn a lesson. (That was stupid) I’m not going to drop them off at the mall and say, get your own ride home. No. And I sure as hell won’t forget my kid at a Chuck E. Cheese on their birthday!
So this is why I think of myself as a Roomba parent. I’m there, I take care of the messes after they actually happen, I do my job. But am I as hovering and attentive as a helicopter mom, I don’t think so. Maybe I’m better than a Roomba parent. Maybe I’m a Zamboni parent? But you get the idea.
My kids have it good. They are ‘lavishly indulged’ compared to most industrialized countries, I am sure. As most kids in this country are. When I say ‘lavishly indulged’, I mean, roof over their heads, laundry done, snacks stocked in the pantry. But I am okay with this. I try hard as a parent to provide them with the best things and experiences. Healthy meals (except for Uncrustables, a mom’s gotta have some slack here and there), I sign them up for swim lessons. Soccer if they want to. Theater. Yep- daughter does that. But only one thing at a time. I can’t stand driving them all over creation. We need down time. And by down time, I mean, time where I’m not in my car and I can watch GCB on DVR while having a glass of wine! My kids don’t have a TV in every room, iPhones, name brand fancy clothing or shoes. They have Target clothes, Supercuts hair cuts. I’m a bargain shopper. But don’t get me wrong- I buy some quality things too. And special things like a Kindle for my daughter. Anyway…my point is- I don’t think my kids are spoiled. Because, and I stress, because- they are gracious and appreciative.
My son says thank you for every blessed thing. Okay, he can be a little shit when he wants pancakes on a Saturday if I haven’t had my 3rd cup of tea, or he asks for milk when he sees me sitting with the laptop and the dog and have no intention of getting up. But still, he says thank you when I take him to the library. Thank you when I get him a burrito from the drive thru on the way from something, thank you for getting his hair cut, thank you for taking the family to the movies. When he was 2 years old he had diarrhea in the middle of the night. Like any two year old. I changed him, and when I put his jammies back on he says, ‘fank you mommy’. OH melt my heart!!!
The girl is gracious too. For her bday I took her to get her haircut, shopping, lunch and bubble tea. She said how much fun she had and thanks for taking her out. She needed a haircut, paid with stuff with her own money, and didn’t whine about anything. I didn’t exactly hire the Jonas Brothers to sing at her birthday or anything!
Okay- this is making my kids sound really good. And don’t let me fool you. They are not angels. They are little shits sometimes. But most of the time, they are awesome, I will admit.
What I worry about, is our future generation of adults. The twentysomethings of today.
We have two rental properties near a local college. Our tenants are students at the college. All in their twenties. Some tenants are very low maintenance, pay the rent on time, buy bug spray if they see ants in the garage, call the fire department if a pipe bursts. You know, basic stuff.
OTHER tenants- I swear still want their mommy or daddy to wipe them! They have no concept of when to send the rent check in. For how much the rent check will be. That we say no pets, we mean- no pets. That if they bust a window or a smoke detector because they were fucking around- they will have to pay for it. My husband and I repeatedly shake our heads in disbelief with some of the calls we get from tenants. Or when we have to send them their rent reminder on the 10th of the month. Seriously? <<SIGH>>
So where does this lead me, oh crap, I forgot to buy cat litter today, see- ADD snuck in!
Anyway, where was I….
Parent your child how you see fit, but please, I hope that means, teaching them how to pay their bills on time when they are older. Thanking folks when they have something done for them and speaking for themselves when they have a problem. So if you want to shower your kid with Juicy Couture clothes, Ugg boots, crackPads, new cars, whatever, make sure they APPRECIATE it. I like nice things. If I could afford it, I would buy the next Marc Jacob’s bag in a hot second! But know where it all comes from. Someone’s working hard for it. Because I like nurtured kids. Spoiled kids- not so much!
Oh, and for heaven’s sake- helicopter moms- teach your kids how to chew their OWN food!!