Am I a Helicopter Mum?
Recent events in the pre-teens department have led me to question whether I am mother or machine!
Twelve year old Berry has suddenly discovered the joys of independence. Friends on bikes come knocking for him and off he goes for several hours. During my childhood in the 70’s this was normal practice for me and my friends, my mum would expect to see me again when I got hungry. But Berry doesn’t even return when he’s hungry; lunch is forgotten and I just have to hope he remembers dinner!
How can I be so relaxed about all this? Well it wasn’t always this easy to sit back and watch him go.
My first glimpse of helicopter hell!
A few months ago Berry asked if he could cycle to his friend’s house one Saturday morning. Excel-man and I exchanged a look of pleasure, as this is the day we had hoped would come. Our children have always been extremely self-sufficient, enjoying one another’s company to the exclusion of friends. This has led us to worry that they don’t have a broad enough social circle and that the day will never come when they go knocking for their friends!
So the answer was a resounding YES, go and knock for your friends!
Berry dutifully put on sunscreen and hat before opening the garage up and waving as he pedaled off.
Suddenly Worry-Brain woke up to the situation and screamed ‘STOP! You don’t know where he’s going, you don’t know when he’ll be back, and you have no way of contacting him! How do you know if you’ll ever see him again?’
Worry-Brain was right, and without further ado I jumped on my bike and pedalled after him!
He wasn’t far away so it didn’t take long to catch up and explain that I was coming with him – to his friend’s house at least. His crest-fallen face said it all; the sense of freedom and adventure had evaporated and been replaced by embarrassment and disappointment.
To compensate for his loss of street cred. I agreed to ride at least 100m behind him and he reluctantly set off!
However, to Berry’s delight we turned the corner and saw his friends cycling towards us!
‘You can go home now’ he called over his shoulder as he cycled away with the group.
Relief flooded though me. Great, he’s with his friends and all is well.
Worry-Brain didn’t agree…
‘You haven’t arranged when he should come home, he hasn’t got a watch or phone and you still don’t know where he’s going!!’ she whispered furtively.
‘Go away! Next time I’ll agree a time for him to come home and make him wear a watch,’ I retorted smugly.
‘But what if there isn’t a next time…’ Worry-Brain said as she played her trump card.
Now that got me moving! I started pedalling as fast as my legs could go, desperate to follow the direction that I had last seen Berry’s group heading in. As I glimpsed them in the distance, I hurtled along, breathing as if I was gasping my last! Waving frantically the closer I got, one of the boys noticed me and tapped Berry on the shoulder. He looked round and waved, then pedalled away even faster!
A few seconds later he looked back again and waved his hand at me. It wasn’t until I waved back that I realised that he wasn’t at me but waving me away!
As they sped up I ramped up into full pursuit mode!
The group sensed the chase was on and wove their way towards the shopping centre to blend in. Drastic action was needed, and I began to shout, which was harder than it sounds considering how close I was to needing a respirator!
Berry pulled away from the group and cycled back towards me asking angrily why I was following him? He looked mortified when I explained that he needed to come home to get his watch and agree a time to be back.
At last I breathed a sigh of relief, although I felt a twinge of guilt for humiliating him in front of his friends, I was thankful that I had listened to Worry-Brain.