When I was pregnant with Beatrice, a friend asked me if I would be a helicopter parent like she was. I didn't really know what that meant, but from what I knew about the label, I knew I probably would not be a hovering mother. For the most part, I am really laid back. I do stress about what she eats and I hate leaving her for longer than a few hours, but those are pretty typical new mom things. I think. I like to let her learn and explore at her own pace, only intervening when she's in danger or discipline is warranted. I'm not about redirecting bad behavior, I'm about correcting it so she knows it's unacceptable.
Today shook my laid back mom approach a little. Beatrice got hurt at the mall play area. She was trampled on my a kid way too big for the toddler area and bloodied her mouth. She squalled, I cried, the big kid got in trouble. It was bad for everyone involved.
Of course, I blame myself for the whole thing. There has never been a time when we've brought her there to play that big kids weren't jumping off of the playhouses, totally oblivious to the little ones. I knew better than to let her play while the kids 3 times her size were being rough and rowdy, but I thought she'd be okay. I thought I could protect her better. I thought I was being too over-protective if I didn't let her play. I thought too much and didn't listen to my instincts and she got hurt. It sucked.
Every night when I lay her down for the night, I pray for Divine protection over her. I do this because my parents always prayed the same for us and because I know just how laid back I am with her, she needs Divine protection. JD freaks when she climbs on the ottoman in our living room. I think it helps her learn agility so I let her do it. JD holds her when we walk out the door and load up in the car. I hold her hand and let her walk beside me. It's natural for me to want her to try things on her own without hovering over her. I think it's vital to growing up and learning how to be a responsible little person, but at what cost? For the record, I am super cautious when we are out in public or are in obvious dangerous situations. She rides in a stroller or is held the entire time we're in crowds. We are extended rear-facers (car seats), she only drinks organic milk (not really a safety issue, but proves that I'm cautious with some things. We don't mess around with synthetic hormones and antibiotics over here). I am serious about her safety everywhere.... but at home it seems. And the play area in the mall....
Today made me want to rethink my parenting approach. It's terrible watching your baby get hurt, especially when it could have been prevented. But it's equally terrible having a 16 year old not know how to order a pizza because their mom does everything for them and never lets them learn on their own. That was me, by the way. In high school, I was the only one of my friends eating Nutrigrain bars while I babysat because I didn't know what to say to get a pizza delivered. There needs to be a middle ground and I need to find it.
The day wasn't a total disaster. After I cleaned up my child's bloody mouth (officially the worst thing I've ever typed. Ever.), we went to Chuck E. Cheese's. After $20 and a bazillion dump truck rides with Bob the Builder later, all was well again in the world.
And mama needed something to calm her nerves so naturally, we got some shaved ice. Coconut and raspberry, an unlikely delicacy. It did the trick.
We also saw a dead hummingbird, but posting that picture would leave this post on a negative note so I won't go there. What kind of parent are you? Do you hover? Are you laid back? Do you let your big kids launch their bodies off of the playhouses in the toddler play area?