Helicopter of Love
I never had to change schools, leaving my friends behind. As the mom of a (rising) fourth-grader, I’m finding it interesting just how invested I am in my son’s happiness, one month after moving to a new city. This morning, he started a week of soccer camp about three blocks from where we’re living, and right next to his new school. “Will there be other kids there my age?” he asked over breakfast. I had a sudden, panicky feeling. What if there weren’t? How would he survive the week?
By breathing, just like always. Who is this Helicopter Mom who lives inside my head?
Admittedly, my hope, when I signed up for this camp, was that he would meet some nice, neighborhood kids. Hopefully some fourth-graders. Possibly, even some smart, fun, interesting kids with wonderful families, like his friends from Emerson School in Berkeley. Who knows, maybe his soon-to-be-best friend was lacing up his cleats at that moment?
See how I get?
A friend of mine told me once that he and his sister referred to themselves as The OverLoved, a kind but also frightening insight into their mother’s intense parenting. I don’t want to do that to my kid.
In order to cultivate detachment, I indulged in a half hour of free reading. I came across this side-splitting quote in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear (the quote is from British columnist Katharine Whitehorn): “You can recognize the people who live for others by the haunted look on the faces of the others.” (p. 99).
That one really got to me. That one made it real. I sent the Helicopter of Love away, and as it floated towards the thought horizon, disappearing into the pretty, imaginary, Berkeley flats sunset, a better wave of emotion found its way to me. Pride. My son is incredible. He’s dealing with our big move like a champ. Like A Boss. Like a G6!
I’ve done what I can, concerning all this new-ness, which is simply to keep being his mom. I just have to remind myself that going through bad experiences bravely can turn us into ordinary heroes. Or hardy adventurers. Or any number of cool things. It’s the basis of most of our favorite books, from The Hobbit (Tolkien) to Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card).
I picked Will up at 3:00 on the dot. “How’d it go?” I asked.
“Fine,” he said. “I made two new friends, and they’re both fourth-graders, and they both go to my new school.”
Secret Happy Dance inside my head!
“Good,” I said. “It’s bath night.”