Monday, April 28, 2008

thwapt thwapt thwapt thwapt thwapt thwapt......

Hey, what is that sound? That is the sound of millions of helicopter parents trying to land, but haven't been given clearance by air traffic control. 

The Dear Manny sent me a link to an article. Usually I save all Newsweek articles until Nudie Magazine Day. (def. Nudie Magazine Day is when the Newsweek arrives at Jennie's house, this usually occurs on Tuesday. She waits patiently by the mailbox until the precise moment when the Newsweek arrives, shuffles the kids into their bedrooms for their naps, and devours it. She is very happy when Anna Quindlen writes the last essay. She is very displeased when Nudie Magazine Day does not occur on Tuesday, but somehow ends up being on Wednesday. When someone else (i.e. the Manny or the Husband) retrieve the Newsweek first and read it all before she does, she pouts and sulks, the nudie magazine has lost it's luster and newness and she is no longer interested in it. She stole this phrase Nudie Magazine Day from the movie Billy Madison.)  What the hell was that about...oh well, let's move on.

So this link was about my favorite topic, neurotic parenting. A mom let her nine year old take the subway home, by himself. Gasp!  She has since started a blog called Free Range Parenting. I am at times a neurotic parent. I am not sure how this happened because both of my parents are very un-neurotic. I was pretty much allowed to roam freely. I was taught "self reliance" (that sounds way better if said with a Sean Connery accent.) This was before the awful term: playdate became part of everyday vocabulary. I am blaming the media for my neurotic parenting behavior, hell why not, they get blamed for everything why not my behavior too. Parenting has reached a pinnacle of new craziness in recent years. I say this because parents are now managing their children's college schedules. People, this really will not do. Yes, I am aware that you are most likely paying for the college...Heaven forbid the little angels got into some debt of their own, but they will never be full-fledged adults while you are managing things for them. I hope I don't do this later in life. It really is embarrassing. 

But I am very afraid of what my behavior will be in the next couple of years. I was explaining to the husband on Friday evening about how there is a stroller brigade from the streets of our neighborhood to the elementary school (we are exactly .6 miles from the school) every morning/mid-day/afternoon. These strollers pick-up not only the little kindergartners, but I am pretty sure the fifth graders as well. For the children who are not "lucky" enough to have mommy home in the afternoon to provide the snacks there is the after school program. Once again, many of these kids are 10/11 years old at this program. Oh, of course there are the day care buses there as well. I was a latch-key kid starting halfway through third grade. Granted it was in Iowa, but seriously what has changed? What really has changed? 

According to Newsweek "Nationwide, stranger abductions are extremely rare; there's a one-in-a-million chance a child will be taken by a stranger, according to the Justice Department. And 90 percent of sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows. Mortality rates from all causes, including disease and accidents, for American children are lower now than they were 25 years ago. According to Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, between 1980 and 2003 death rates dropped by 44 percent for children ages five to 14 and 32 percent for teens aged 15 to 19."  Are these good numbers because we have become a nation of wussies? Or are they the result of actual safety measures that make a difference such as car seats, seat belts, air bags, vaccines, safety gates and such. Are these numbers the result of schools totally wigging out and outlawing tag. I highly doubt it. 

I wasn't being completely sarcastic and snarky when I said I blame the media. It is a horrible awful thing when a child is in an accident, seriously injured, abducted or dies. Horrible. But the media in all of it's money making schemes really does play on people's rational and at the same time irrational fears. We hear about every single crazy thing that happens in this nation. With wall to wall media sensationalism, you feel as if you are being a bad parent if you don't pay attention to these "warnings."  Bad toys, bad food, bad schools, bad playgrounds, bad vaccines, bad over the counter medicine,  bad, bad, bad EVERYTHING!

What I think has started to happen is people lose trust in their own parenting instincts. They  forever see their child as helpless, and never take the time to help the child gain independence and courage because they are too busy dousing the child in Purell or strapping a helmet on the toddler because he falls down when he walks.  They are afraid that anything will happen to their kid and they will be to blame.  I was afraid to leave my son with my husband when he was a newborn...actually this went on longer than the newborn stage. The husband is a good parent, has never harmed or put our children in danger, but I had a mindset that ME, MYSELF and I was the only person that could take care of him. All day every day, to the exclusion of HIS OTHER PARENT.  That is not good. My goal as a parent is to make sure that they can make it in the world all on there little lonesomes, AT 18!!!  Not at 25, 34, 47, or 65 for crying out loud. At 18, when they can legally go to another country and fire a large weapon at someone in a war. 

crackle. crackle. 

"control tower this is helicopter Jennie asking for permission to land."

"permission granted helicopter Jennie. you may sleep peacefully now." 

"rodger that. over"


Anonymous said...

For the record the husband just took a parenting test and here are the results:

Your score indicates that you are a “balanced parent.”

You believe in and trust your children. And they trust and respect you, even though it may not seem that way at times. You also trust your own instincts. You know that children need love and encouragement, as well as discipline and clear limits, to grow to be responsible adults. You are constantly fine-tuning that balance in your role as a parent.

jennie said...

holy crap you commented! i am in blog heaven now.

EatPlayLove said...

so where do we get this parent test?

I read that article about the NYC mom, she has some great points. Aah, to hover or to not hover is the question?!