Saturday, October 18, 2014

Helicopter Parent

An open letter to my one-time dear friend, current acquaintance who called me a "helicopter mom":
(and for those of you unfamiliar with the term: "A helicopter parent 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".)
you were at the party with your husband and your only child, an infant. i was at the same party, as a single mom, with my very sassy 1 year old and my very strong-willed 2.5 year old. that very same strong-willed 2.5 year old also just so happens to have autism.
autism or no autism, i dare say that many moms wouldn't try to take a 1 year old and a 2.5 year old to a party and keep up with them on their own. of course, some moms would... and i am one of those moms. i hope you will be, too! & if you are... i promise not to judge you if you don't have much time for conversation.
i just want you to know... there is so much you DON'T know!
you don't know what it is like to keep up with my (now) 3.5 year old son, who has autism. you don't know that children with autism have a propensity to wander. you don't' know that if he wanders and i call his name, he isn't going to respond. you don't know that when these children wander, they have an affinity towards water. you don't know the statistics that show how many children with autism wander, find their way to water, and are then found dead. do you even know that there was a lake just beyond the treeline of the party we were at? of course not, because you don't HAVE to know that! you don't know that if he is watching TV and gets overly excited, he might throw his sippy cup at the TV and in that split second, ruin a $3,000 plasma TV. i know this because it has happened before. you don't know that he can't communicate and the frustration that causes for him. you don't know that that frustration to express his wants, needs, hurts and fears, can cause him to sometimes unexpectedly lash out and grab another child's face... maybe even your own child's face.
so yes, i hover.
i understand that you can't possibly understand all of these things because you have a NT child. in fact, you don't even know what a NT child is. A NT child is a neurotypical child. Your child. And because you only have a neurotypical child, you have never been exposed to that terminology.
So... YES, maybe I am a helicopter mom. In fact, there is no maybe to it. I AM a helicopter mom. But I am that mom because that is what my child needs me to be.
i understand that we haven't spoken in years, i understand that there is much you don't know about my life, i understand that there is much you don't understand about my amazing son. but, old friend, ASK. don't judge. don't assume. just ASK!
you're right, i AM a helicopter parent. but, i am still the same person i always was. and i assure you, i would LOVE to be kicked back on the sofa, sipping a glass of champagne, lost in conversation with great friends, and let my kids run off and play with other children on their own. but i can't. that is not my life. it isn't that i CHOOSE to be a helicopter mom. that role was chosen for me. i would so very much appreciate your understanding and support, even your questions, but not your judgement.

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