Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, August 29, 2020


I, like all of you, have read about "helicopter parents", those crazy folk who hover about their children's lives, smoothing the rough paths, fighting the battles, fixing the problems. Ha ha! I have laughed, along with you. What's wrong with these nuts? Don't they know their children need independence to develop their own lives and mature into adults? 

Indeed, I've had no problem sending kids off for a week of summer camp or family visiting, without any desire to check the password-protected photo websites or call every day to make sure Junior is doing well. Kids, you gotta let 'em fly, right?

Hoo boy, I never sent a kid off to college.

Perhaps the difference is that when a child goes to camp, or on vacation, or to see cousins, that child is coming back home. It's no hardship to go a week without chatting when you know that on Saturday, you'll catch up and hear all the details and go back to normal. But now a piece of my heart lives three hours away, and I miss her. I want to hear all about how classes went, and what's the deal with auditions, and who she's meeting, and how she's getting settled. I can't shout upstairs anymore every time I see a dog meme or a stupid pun or a Harry Potter ranking article. We don't pass each other in the kitchen and exchange quotes. I like this human, and I miss being in contact with her daily.

On the other hand, I know that no college student wants Mom texting all day with links and photos and advice and chat. I wouldn't have wanted that at 18. I wanted to start my adult life, to be responsible for myself, to make friends without reference to my parents' community, to my childhood. I wanted to reinvent myself, and you can't do that with your parents watching over your shoulder, even lovingly.

But the savvy parent plays the long game. First, have a lot of children close together. Get them through the most trying age, until they're friends even though they all have different personalities. Then when one goes away, the siblings will text each other, and that's how Mom will find out that Saturday is karaoke night and the sisters are strategizing about which song to sing ("Satisfied", from Hamilton). 

And I'm not going to text and ask her to have someone video it and send it to us, no sir, because that would be hovering. But if the sisters get a video, you bet I'll be watching it over their shoulders.


Nate Winchester said...

Dave Griffey pointed out once that parenting is the worst job: You spend years training the person you love most in the world to leave you.

It was then i realized God is brilliant. He spends our entire lives training us to come to Him.

Good luck with the college years. ;)

Julie D. said...

Nate - brilliant - I love that!

Mrs. Darwin - as someone who's been through this I can say that the best part is they do come home, admittedly not for the daily stuff in the same way. And they come back better — more as themselves. Which can cause its own chaos but it is chaos that's worth it. :-)

mandamum said...

Thank you for this, Mrs. Darwin. My first is a year behind yours, because her birthday is in the fall, but I am staring down application season and her senior year, and just experienced a summer of her being away at things and missing her... and this is one of the times when I miss my mother all over again, as I would dearly love to ask how she handled this so gracefully. Thank you for letting me into your thoughts and strategies on this one.