Ruminations on grandmas and helicoptering

helicopterWow, I am feeling a little six-degrees-of-separation reflected glory here from HerBadMother, one of my fave bloggers. She and her mom were featured in a New York Times article yesterday about hands-off grandmas – rather the opposite of “helicopter” grandmas and parents. Well, she’s already famous, but while I, unlike many of her devoted blog followers, have never met Catherine, I had an email exchange with her one time, and comment occasionally on her blog – does it count for the reflected glory?

Between HBM’s blog post, the NYT article, and a Boston Globe article (and followup letters to the editor) this week on helicopter parenting, I was thinking both about my own style, and my mother, who’s been gone now nearly nine years.

My own style is a cross between “send them away and get ’em out of my hair” and “calling pretty often” (DD lives in Oregon now, DS back in India this year).

Message left on DD’s phone today: “How can I practice my helicopter parenting skills if you NEVER PICK UP THE PHONE!!” 🙂

My mom lived a day’s drive from us (or rather the other way around; she lived in the same place for 50 years!) so there wasn’t much hovering or helping either one going on there. When we went to see her, though, there was a fair amount of hovering – but not over the kids; rather, over her stuff. My sweet son, who was only 4 the last time we went there, still, at age 15, thinks his grandma didn’t like him. At her house, whenever he tried to touch anything or look at anything, she’d jump right in and call out to him “Don’t touch that!!” “Don’t touch that!!” – until, as we were driving home from that trip he looked at me and asked, “Why does Grandma hate me?” My heart was breaking. Because I knew she didn’t; she just had spent over 10 years by that time living alone, and was used to having things the way she wanted. A 4 year old picking up a magazine or trying to touch a tchotchke on the end table just freaked her out. We never went to her house again. When she came to ours, it was fine, because it wasn’t her stuff, so she never told him to not touch things.

Oh, and if you ever need your heart uplifted, go to HerBadMother’s blog and look back through her pics of her daughter, the former WonderBaby – seriously! Her sweet little face and radiant smile can bring sunshine to anyone’s day, I guarantee.


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