If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…well…


These are the sounds of my helicopter rotors because evidentially I am a HELICOPTER PARENT. From experience I know what a helicopter parent is and what they do. I once offered a girl a job. She said she would have to call her mom and proceeded to get out her cell phone, make the call and talk to her mom about the offer. Her mom declined our offer because she didn’t want her daughter working nights. Her daughter was a new graduate nurse…NIGHTS are expected. I had parents bring their children to interviews. I’ve heard parents complain to teachers that their darling Ralph or Ruthie can’t possibly be expected to do HOMEWORK because of time restraints and scheduling conflicts. Heard. It. Myself. Those are helicopter parents. I scoff at helicopter parenting. I roll my eyes and smirk I witness such behavior.

“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Still doubting this recent definition I looked up exactly what the phrase means—in case I misunderstood.

A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead.

“If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and acts like a duck…well…it’s a duck.”

Still doubtful that the phrase, which has negative connotations, applied to me: I re-examined the recent occurrences that led me to this new description of my parenting style.

I don’t believe every child should get a ‘trophy’. I don’t believe in not keeping score so that everyone ‘wins’. I don’t. Really. In life there is a winner and there are those that don’t win. Losers is a strong term so I do shy away from it but in truth someone wins, someone loses. Adjust accordingly. That’s my motto. Until….(maybe I should look up the word hypocrite)…basketball ‘shootout’. 4 girls were picked to be on the all-star team. Other girls were picked to do other activities. My daughter was not on the all-star team which I whole-heartedly supported. She was asked to do a free-throw contest at the all-star event. I doubted that nomination and would have been fine had she not been asked to participate at the event. Really? As a first time player her skills were very, very raw. She was asked to participate. So she did. Here is where I strayed from my philosophy at bit. All the girls that played in the all-star game got medals at the end of the game. Okay. They then got season awards, “most improved” or “best sportsman”. Uh…sort of okay. Out of a team of 11 only those 4 girls were candidates for season awards? I squirmed a bit at that. For the free throw and the knock out contest only the winner received any recognition. That didn’t feel right. They are all at the same event, at the same time. They all played on the same team. Yet ½ of them got all the awards while the “lesser” part of the team got nada. I hated myself for not liking that my daughter walked away with nothing after working so hard all season. She doesn’t play for ribbons or trophies but the discrepancy between the group of girls just bothered me a bit. I still wasn’t ready to admit to being a helicopter mom.

February began and I started my search for the perfect handcrafted valentine idea. Since kindergarten we have made valentines. The first year I cut out adorable letters for each child. My daughter decorated the letters and had to say something nice about every child. I scribed her words. Over the years the valentines have evolved but they are always hand-made. 2 years ago we made yarn book-marks for our “Class wouldn’t KNOT be the same without out”. Last year was a carefully planned photo shoot made to look like the child was holding a lollipop. Ahh-door-able. Needless to say I had big shoes to fill this year. Measuring up to last years was going to be a challenge. Pintrest became my best friend. I spent hours looking at ideas. I brainstormed with my daughter. We mocked up some cute phrases and threw out ideas on how to cutely package this year’s hand-made treat. And then it hit me. My daughter is 11. She’s in the 5th grade. I got physically weak in the knees and sick to my stomach when I realized that they probably wouldn’t do Valentine’s this year. I became sad. Borderline depressed. Valentines were our thing. Not doing them together…well just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea. At some point in my sorrow the ridiculousness of my reaction did register. And there was my second indicator that I just might be a helicopter parent.

High School Orientation. First slide, “Welcome class of 2018!” I cried. I wanted to sob. Big, noisy, ugly sobs but luckily I was able to hold those back. I spent the remainder of the meeting thinking, “I only have him for 4 more years.” I just couldn’t/can’t fathom how I will handle by little fella being a big fella and not needing me. No more swim meets? How would I be sure he didn’t speed when he started driving? How could I be sure he stayed organized and on-track in high school? B average for the HOPE scholarship…how were we going to make that happen? Should we go to the girl’s house or ask her to ours for Prom pictures? The talk…must be sure the TALK happened again. WHOA. All this from a first slide. Yep…I might just have a problem.

Occam’s Razor (also written as Ockham’s razor from William of Ockham (c. 1287 – 1347), and in Latin lex parsimoniae) is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

Somewhere in my life I’d heard the phrase Occam’s Razor. My version is much watered down, “The simplest answer is often right.” It’s hard to argue with a principle that has a latin name.

It was serendipitous that my facebook feed included the question, “I am a cool-cat parent. What kind are you?” Ah-ha. Validation that I am NOT a helicopter parent but am instead a ______ fill-in-the-blank type of parent. Being described as ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’ or even ‘attentive’ would not have bothered me. I opened the link and took the quiz. On a few questions I might have even fudged my first instinct to seem more ‘cool’, ‘hip’ or ‘superbly awesome’. Result: You are a helicopter parent. Share this with your friends. Uh…No. I deleted the quiz. Facebook is hardly a reliable source of truth.

Later that weekend as I sat cutting hearts and stringing them onto fishing line to make a back-drop for the hand-made valentines we were going to make even if there wasn’t a party…..yeah….feel free to pause here while you laugh uproariously. Back to that duck quote. At some point in the hours I spent on said craft project I had to admit to myself that maybe…just maybe…the phrase did apply to me. And maybe-just maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe.

I’ll have to think on it some more as I am helping my son finish his AG project or as I feed my daughter ideas for her short-story or as I start planning the home-made cupcake toppers that I will made to celebrate my 3 year olds birthday next month. Yep…I’ll need to give this some serious thought before admitting that I may, just may have a problem.


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