In Defense Of Helicopter Parents
It’s no secret that my personal anxiety make it hard for me to leave my children for any serious length of time. And while I’ve always envied the moms who can stand back at the playground while their three-year-old navigates the ladder rungs to the slide solo instead using my method of hovering with my hands two inches from my kid’s hips in case they slip, recently I had a close call with one of my children that makes me feel less guilty about my inability to let go.
My family and I recently visited Disney World. While overall it was a magical vacation, we came very, very close to having a tragedy happen instead. We’ve stayed in hotels with our twin two-year-olds before, and they are usually pretty good about staying out of trouble. We stash the garbage cans up out of reach and keep the bathroom door closed to prevent them from turning the toilet into a splash pad, but other than that the boys seem to have outgrown trying to sever their fingers in drawers or guillotining each other with the sliding closet doors. So as I do in our baby-proofed home, I stupidly let my guard down and wasn’t on top of them every second we were in the hotel room.
Early one morning as I was packing a day bag for a trip into the Magic Kingdom, one of my sons reached up and pulled on the handle of a narrow, four foot tall wooden cabinet that contained a mini fridge, a couple drawers for food and housed a coffee maker with mugs and water glasses on top. He did this so quietly that it was only out of the corner of my eye I saw his feet dangling off the floor. As I spun to face him, I saw the cabinet start to tip forward on top of him.
I screamed, my husband and I both lunged, but even though we were maybe ten feet away from him at best, in the deepest part of my soul, I knew we weren’t going to make it in time.
Call it grace, call it God, call it sheer dumb luck, but the hallway where this cabinet was placed was just narrow enough that when it fell, instead of landing directly on top of my son, it hit the wall first.The mini fridge fell out of the bottom, all of the glasses and mugs on top shattered around him, and yet somehow there he was- curled into a ball in the foot and a half space that remained between the fallen furniture and the floor. He was terrified and screaming his head off, but he had nothing more wrong with him than a scrape on one arm.
It’s been nearly a week since it happened and I still can’t stop replaying the incident over and over in my head. Even though he’s completely fine, I know just how easily the outcome could have been a serious injury, if not a fatality. Even though it’s impossible for parents to watch their children every second of every day I can’t help but blame myself for almost letting the unthinkable happen. So if you see me or another parent seemingly smothering our kids in public, please be gentle. We know how we look, we really do. But sometimes it’s hard learning to let go after facing a close call.