I loathe the term helicopter parenting. I loathe parenting columns and parenting segments on morning tv.
This is what I get accused of and many parents of high needs children are also named and shamed this way.
Today I had a light bulb moment. I am both an intentional and casual parent. I like this description. It’s not demeaning or critical and it recognizes that I make well thought out decisions about both my children and the way I raise them.
I have never been a hovverer. I never sterilized bottles. The midwife said no need. I stopped boiling water when my kids started crawling. I figured they’re down there with the dog and on the floor, why bother? If they had a minor fall or scrape I wasn’t rushing to them. I just would say oops hop up, you’re okay.
I am protective in other areas. Or better still I prefer, involved. Yes I want a say in the way my kids are educated. I’ll make the decisions when they’re mature enough to catch the train into the city with friends, who they have sleepovers with, what they watch on tv and most importantly knowing where they are.
My husband and I had a bit of a situation this morning and I recognized I’ve moved into a casual parenting style. This is something I never thought would happen. Why? I have an autistic son. No, it’s not a tragedy but it means I am hyper vigilant for reasons I won’t share to protect my son’s privacy.
Today I was kind of proud to be calm in the knowledge I wasn’t sure where my son was. BECAUSE of my intentional parenting. I knew he had the capacity to get home no matter what.
Ok so I’ll back up a bit. My son stayed at a mate’s place last night. This is happening more often and I’m always so thrilled. He texted me to tell me he had forgotten to take his charger.
Now my son is seventeen. I no longer take his forgotten lunch to school etc. I am doing him no favours by doing that. He scootered to his mate’s house yesterday. He rang me while I was out yesterday and negotiated the sleepover on the phone. Yes I did a happy jig.
Anyway, his mate recently moved. My husband has done a drop off and pick up at the new house so I was satisfied we knew where he was. This morning I caught up with a friend and I asked my husband to pick our son up. My husband rang and said he couldn’t remember which house. You see the house is on an easement with no street frontage and my husband said there were about four of these.
Aaaarrrrggghhhh. Said husband was taking his Mum out for lunch so left it for me to deal with. Now let me state: I DID NOT PANIC.
- I knew my son had his scooter
- I knew he could get himself home
- I knew his last location on find my phone when his phone went flat
- I knew the street just not the house
I had a good laugh with my friend and probably chatted for another hour before we said our goodbyes.
I then drove along the street. Drove up three long driveways. Made an idiot of myself knocking on doors until I found my son. He wasn’t ready to come home. I made a note of the street number and texted my husband the actual address and asked him to pick our lad up later and then went home.
No knickers in a knot, no stress – nothing. Why is this so significant? Because if you have spent your whole life parenting with intention and this day arrives (and I believe we all at times have misplaced our child) I was confident and had faith in my son. I kind of felt a certain thrill and made a joke to my friend that I’m a bad Mum. This really is more momentous then even I can describe.