The Hovering Helicopter

Helicopter Parents. I’ve read articles about them, and how not to be one, and I try.  I’m sure in some ways I am, because I worry about the girls.  But I’ve always tried to let them solve their own problems, because I won’t always be able to help.

When Oldest One was in 6th grade – I think – she ran for a class office.  We made posters, and helped her write her speech…the usual parent things.  Problems came about when the girl she was running against started to take Oldest One’s signs down and put them in the trash, and started bad mouthing her.  Oldest One told us about it, and that the principal had called the other girl in, and her parents were called.  We talked about it, and how she felt, and what she could do about it.  Ultimately the other girl won, and Husband bought a beautiful vase filled with flowers for Oldest One to cheer her up, and which did put a smile on her face.  A co-worker berated me the next day, saying I should have made a big deal of what the other girl did, and I should have demanded she be taken out of the running.  Basically, she was saying I didn’t do enough.  I told my co-worker I could have done all of that, but what would my child have learned?  Life isn’t always easy, people aren’t always nice, and you don’t always win.  Better for her to find those things out now, and learn to cope, then to be a 20-something having a major meltdown at her first job.  Oh, and Oldest One went on to hold offices in high school, so, yes, it all worked out.

This was all brought to mind as I texted Oldest One today. Although she went and paid her parking ticket last week, it is still showing on her Bursar account.  I have to pay the balance on the account today, and I’m not including the ticket, since I know it’s paid.  I texted her to remind her to go to the Bursar’s Office with the receipt to have them remove the ticket charge.  She is busy today, can she go tomorrow is what I received as an answer.  She can, but there might bet a late charge, so I told her she needed to make sure it was removed along with the ticket.

Could I call the Bursar’s office myself? I could, although since she is 18 I don’t know if they would talk to me.  But I don’t want to.  She needs to start handling this stuff herself.  I’m reminding her, but ultimately she has to do it herself.  She needed to go to Student Health, so I told her to take her insurance card, pay for the visit with her debit card, and I’d put the money in her account to cover it.  Because she is old enough to make the appointment herself.  She still needs our help, and our advice, but she is at college now, and needs to start doing things and figuring out things.  I haven’t talked to any professors or her advisor, because I shouldn’t.  I don’t want to either.  But I’ve suggested she do it, when the situation seemed to indicate it would help, and she did, and it was a good result for her.

Letting go is tough. Kids grow up too fast for us parents, and our instinct is to throw our arms around them and protect them from the world.  Doing everything for them is one of the ways to do this.  But it doesn’t help the kids grow and learn, and understand what to do next time.  I’m always just a phone call away, and I’ll always stop what I’m doing to listen and to chat.  But it’s time for her to start making her own appointments, and to figure out how to get the Bursar to remove a charge that has already been paid.  Bigger challenges are on the way, and if we don’t give our kids a chance to conquer the little stuff, how can we expect them to be prepared for just living?

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Exercise Classes?

Oldest One is registering for spring semester at college. She really wanted to take an exercise class, but said there aren’t any.  I offered to look, because of course there are PE classes offered.  Heck, back in the late 80’s we were required to take a PE class in order to graduate.

But that has changed. The only exercise type classes I could find were under Dance.  I know ballet isn’t to her liking, and though she might like modern dance or tap dance, that isn’t what she is looking for.  These days college students have massive, and amazing, recreation centers.

I went to look up the rec center website. Her dorm is right across the street, and she does use it regularly to run, treadmill and lift weights.  She and her neighbor try to go every night.  She said the classes cost money, so she didn’t want to ask to do one there.  It’s actually a good deal though, to get her a pass for the classes.  I can get a pass for an entire semester much cheaper than I can get her a gym membership, and she can go to any of the classes when she wants.  If she has time and wants to go to 3 different classes in one day she can.  And the classes are for everything from yoga to Zumba to water aerobics.

Husband agrees the pass is a good deal, so if she wants it we are getting it. My parents never encouraged me to do any exercise or sports, because “girls didn’t do that.”  We have always had our girls active, mostly in competitive cheer, which is very physically demanding.  I’ve been told if I had been physically active and exercising my scoliosis may not have gotten so bad, because my back muscles would have been stronger and could have held up better.  Today all my back issues ultimately stem from the curving of my spine.

I’m determined my girls will always have access to recreation centers, gyms, and classes. I will happily pay for all of it to help keep them fit and active, and keep their muscles strong.  I don’t want them to have my issues one day, and in doing this I can help them avoid it.

Family Weekend

This past weekend was Family Weekend at Oldest One’s university. Because we weren’t sure with all my problems if we could go, I waited until the last minute to book a room.  Our usual hotel was charging $800 a night, instead of the usual $80.  Ridiculous!  So, I found another hotel for $60 a night, which, upon entering, prompted Husband to declare we had hit a new low for our hotel stays.  The area was definitely rougher, yet we had a very quiet stay.  Husband had to pay $20 (refundable) to get the one key allowed for the room.  The air conditioner, which kept the room very cold, was held together by duct tape and cardboard.  The furniture was chipped and stained, and Little One had fun hopping around the carpet finding where the hard lumps were.  The beds were really comfortable, the sink in the bathroom was huge, and most important, the cable in the hotel included the channel needed to watch the college football game we weren’t able to get tickets for (just for Husband and Little One, I had planned to watch in the hotel all along).

I couldn’t do much, so Husband and Little One went with Oldest One to the carnival on Saturday, and to walk around the campus with Oldest One showing them where her classes were, where she went to study groups and to study, and where the Starbucks with the least amount of people was. I was able, with my cane and special chair, to do the tailgate and brunch at the sorority house.  The sorority house was beautiful, and much bigger than it looked from the outside.  The only Mom I got the opportunity to talk to was a completely rude and nasty woman.  When I initiated conversation she actually ignored me and turned her head.  Oldest One assured me most of the Moms are really nice, but I got the one who isn’t.

I also made it to Oldest One’s dorm room. I did have to lay on the floor on the sleeping bags and blankets Little One had slept on after I got there because the beds are so high, but that was okay, because I was there!  She has all the sorority things she has been given so far on the walls, along with pictures of family and friends, and Audrey Hepburn.  Oldest One loves Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  We briefly met her roommate (they are cordial, but that’s it).  Her roommate’s side of the room is super clean and organized.  Her roommate also has a framed 8×10 of herself on her desk.  Interesting.

To spend time with me Oldest One brought the DVD of Dirty Dancing over (checked out from the front desk of the dorm…she loves their movie selections) and we watched it on my laptop snuggled together in one of the hotel beds. Because of the game, and how long it took for her to get her car out of the parking garage with game traffic, she got to the hotel super late…we didn’t finish the movie until 3a.  Husband and Little One fell asleep in the other bed, and Little One pretty much sleep walked back to the dorm with her sister.  Oldest One and I had a great time watching the movie, chatting, saying the lines, and getting annoyed with Baby.

And, to keep the good times going, I got a call yesterday from the Big Name Clinic I had sent my MRI reports to for review, and the surgeon gave me an appointment! Which means he saw something wrong that he thinks he could surgically correct!  Just think, next year for Family Weekend maybe I can do everything, including walking everywhere and attending the football game.  I always strive to dream big!

Keeping in Touch

When Oldest One started driving, I got in the habit of saying “Keep in touch” when she left the house. This was a final reminder after the 32 others I had given that she needed to text me when she got where she was going, and when she left, and any time in between if something changed.  Then, when she got home, if we were in bed (her curfew as a senior in high school on the weekends was one a.m., and sometimes I just couldn’t stay awake) we had various ways she could let us know she was home:  text me, turn off a light we left on, come wake me up…the possibilities were all about the parental units being woke up.  I got into the habit of charging my cell phone at night next to my bed, so if I was needed I would hear my phone and could instantly wake Husband up and send him to fix the emergency.

Oldest One is very good about keeping in touch. We allowed her to go to a couple of concerts her senior year, with an extended weeknight curfew.  Since Husband and I had to go to work the next morning, we went to bed before she came home.  Those were long nights.  She would text when the concert ended, then she would text when they got to the car.  Then she would text they were going to get something to eat, and when they got to the restaurant, and when they left…until she got home I wasn’t really getting to sleep, because my phone kept going off.  But I wasn’t going to complain, because she always kept in touch.

Now she is in college, and of course she doesn’t have a curfew. We ended the curfew this summer anyway, without telling her, because we felt she needed the responsibility before she left home.  She figured it out when we never said no to her coming home later when asked.  She is actually good about keeping in touch, and we get calls several times a week, giving us the highlights of what is going on.  She is big on using Snap Chat, and we get pictures too, which is nice.  And the pictures come at all hours.  Anytime, day or night.

Last night, or rather early this morning, my phone went off. I was wasn’t really asleep, as I was having one of those nights where I wake up every half hour from the pain, but I still kind of leaped (as well as I could) out of bed for the phone.  If something is wrong, even though she is 2 hours away, I am right there to help.  It was a Snap Chat video, so I ignored it, and got back in bed.  It was after 1 a.m.  When I looked at it this morning, it was something about French braiding hair.  Quite important.

But, at least she took my words to heart, and she is keeping in touch. And that is what is important.  I know she has made a lot of new friends, for the most part she likes her classes, and she is having fun being in a sorority.  I know her sleeping habits, because she told me, I know where she eats, and I know she is having fun at fraternity parties.  Which is all good, and things I want to hear.  But not after I go to bed.  I won’t say that to her, because 1 a.m. for her is totally different than it is for me.  And because I want to keep getting the videos and phone calls.  And because it’s nice to know she really does want to keep in touch.