Helicopter Parenting and the One-Upper Syndrome

It’s been a long week, and the week started the night of this game when our band bus broke down on a major highway at midnight.  Let me backtrack just a bit first.  I’ve had two traumatic experiences this week, the first with a toilet plunger and the second with a motorized scooter, and both of these experiences followed the volunteer night from hell.  Coincidence?  Well….probably, but it feels like a conspiracy!  Although, I’ve read that a coincidence is nothing more than God remaining anonymous.  Furthermore, I think before you can sell a 90-year-old woman a scooter, there should be driving classes and some kind of license earned!  After I throw myself against a wall to keep from getting plowed over, I hear the word

*SHIT*

My first horrifying thought is that I am the one who inadvertently screamed it out, but then I quickly realize, it was her!  She doesn’t even apologize, but turns around and starts screaming down the hall at her husband.  Apparently, because he couldn’t keep up with her, she lost focus and almost killed me. 

SHE is in a scooter.

HE is rockin’ the walker.

Think about it.  How in the hell is this poor guy supposed to keep up?  As I tread carefully back to the safety of my office, I pass this poor man and I’m pretty sure I heard him mutter something about pushing her scooter into oncoming traffic.  Ah, wedded bliss.  Anyway, I digress…as usual.

I stopped volunteering for a few years for several reasons:

  1. As a general rule, I dislike most other parents.  There are exceptions to this rule, but mostly I just think everyone’s an idiot.
  2. When my youngest daughter was 8 and my oldest daughter was 12, with another daughter in the middle, my husband knocked me up with our blessed man-child, so between bringing our 4th child into the world, and reading the handbook entitled “Puberty and Infancy:  Three Pre-Teen Girls and a Baby – The Survivor’s Guide”, there was no way I could deal with either #1 or volunteering without ending up on the news in a bad way.  A very very bad way.
  3. Helicopter parenting
  4. My last volunteer job was coordinating the 5th grade graduation for my oldest daughter.  Yes, you read that right.  A 5th grade graduation.  Does everyone have these or is it just a Texas thing?  I tried to make the theme “Celebrating Mediocrity” but it wasn’t well received.  The complete and utter bullshit I encountered throwing this shindig together was unbelievable.  If I was blogging back then, it would have been the mother of all blogs.  Because of the PTSD, I don’t remember most of it now, just that I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house for years.

So, I very gingerly entered the realm of volunteering again last year by signing up to chaperone my son’s field trips and the band trips for my 2 band daughters.

***READER BEWARE***

This next part is a rant about other people who also happen to be parents.  By ranting about these parents, I am in no way claiming to be perfect, parentally or otherwise.  I wouldn’t like these people if they didn’t have kids, it just so happens that they do, and therefore (in my opinion) are more insufferable because of it.  These are my personal pet peeves, you might meet these parents and think they are lovely.  I admit that I am socially awkward, I ramble and talk about inappropriate things when I am nervous, and I take a rather “I’m exhausted don’t bother me” approach to parenting.  I find it difficult to embrace “helicopter” parenting and the parents who abuse it.

The definition of a helicopter parent according to Wikipedia:

“Helicopter parent is a colloquial term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.

The term was originally coined by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead. It is also called “overparenting”. It has also been reported that some such parents get involved with their children’s salary negotiations.”

Keep in mind that even as I write this my 6-year-old son is behind me using a kitchen knife to open his Halo Action Figure packaging.  I guess I should intervene.  <sigh>  Hold please.

Okay, I’m back.  I 100% believe that we are the best advocates for our children, and we should be involved in their lives.  I just don’t understand why some people throw common sense out of the window, and hold the expectation that everything should be handed to their child on a silver platter and served with a smile.  My son has spent his fair share of time in the “thinking corner” and has brought home on more than one occasion the “I made a bad choice” note.  For example, one time he brought home the “I made a bad choice” note for showing his underwear in school.  He was talking to a group of kids, and it came up how much they all loved Iron Man and my son claimed himself the BIGGEST fan because Iron Man was on his butt, which he then proceeded to display.  He’s not a pervert.  He did a perfectly innocent thing, in a perfectly innocent way, but some volunteering “helicopter” mom and another teacher threw a fit, and I got a half-page letter on the inappropriateness of my son’s behavior.  My son’s response when asked:  “Mom, I’m so misunderstood”.  Poor baby.  I am fine with the bad choice letter, and we did discuss it with him.  I objected to the note from the teacher, which I felt blew the situation out of proportion, and I blame the helicopter mom.  The teacher was probably so concerned about managing helicopter mom that reason and common sense flew out the window.  This same mother had visited with the principal on numerous occasions to discuss how the other boys in the class play rough, and use foul language like “butt” or “shut up”, or how her son fell off the monkey bars during recess and blah, blah, blah.   I could literally discuss this topic for another 1,000 words.  Ugh.  Okay….rant over and back to my wonderful volunteer excursion.

Unfortunately, I had the wonderful experience of sharing a bus with a dad who suffers from “One-Upper Syndrome”.  You know this guy, or you know the girl.  No matter what you say on whatever topic, this person has not only experienced the exact same thing, but their situation was worse!  I call this the “poker conversation”.

“I’ll see your bladder infection and raise with a kidney stone”   

Not only is this particular dad a one-upper, but he’s also a loud-talker.  Everything that comes out of his mouth is set to a head-splitting decibel.  And he spits.  Thanks for the weather report, when I just wanted the news buddy.  He knows everything, he’s seen it all.  I could tell the man I have a yeast infection and either he’s the only man in the world to experience a yeast infection (can men get yeast infections?  let me google) or his wife’s brother’s cousin’s girlfriend died from one. 

***Apparently men can get yeast infections, but it’s not common***          

Anyway, you get my point.  So, I’m stuck on the bus with this guy for an away game (40 minute bus ride).  Then the check engine light goes off in the bus and it starts making this shrill beeping sound…THE ENTIRE WAY TO THE GAME. 

We arrive at the game, and one of our first duties is to pass out water to the students.  Even this simple task has me wanting to run for the hills.  These women actually treat this volunteer activity like a freaking contest.  I was getting hit in the face with water bottles.  I had one dropped on my foot, as this mom attempts to juggle like 15 of them, while she maneuvers to the head of the line, because God forbid someone pass out more water bottles than her!  She really should replace her bedazzled sparkle “I’m a band mom” shirt with a bedazzled sparkle “I’m the #1 water-bottle champion mom” shirt.  After getting smacked in the face by people thrusting their arms in front of me so their water bottle would be nabbed before mine, I walked over to the bleachers and sat down.  These moms could knock themselves out (literally) for the title and trophy of “water-mom extraordinaire”, I was done. 

The other thing about these events that makes me laugh are the “spirit” buttons.  These are ginormous buttons with your kids face plastered on them.  Maybe some kids like this level of spirit and dedication from their parents, my kids would kill me if I wore a picture button of them on my boob.  I refuse to even buy the bedazzled t-shirts.  Putting glitter over my muffin-top will not make me a cupcake.

Then I am assigned the unpleasant task of redirecting parents trying to sit in the band section to the spectator portion of the stands.  My conversation with one mom:

Me:  I’m sorry, but this section is for the band.  The parent section is that way (and I point).

Mom:  Yes, I’m a band mom.

Me:  Yes, I understand that but unless you are volunteering or you are an actual member of the band, you need to sit in the parent section. 

Mom:  I’ll just sit there on the end.  It’s my son’s first away game.

Me:  (staring at her incredulously) Umm he’s in good hands, and you’ll be able to see him from the parent section.

Mom:  Fine.  (stomps off)

Her son is 16.  SIXTEEN.  I feel sorry for his future wife.

The rest of the game passes by with only minor irritation.  Then we head home.  The backseat driving from my bus-mate wouldn’t have been AS bad if it had actually been conducted from the backseat, but NOOOOOOOOOOOO, he was standing all up in the bus drivers personal space barking orders about how to maneuver out of the parking lot.  How she kept it together, I don’t know.  I would have lost my shit.  I was losing my shit just watching this behavior.  She politely asked him to sit down for his safety, and after directing her a bit more, he finally did.

It’s late.  I’m tired.  It’s been a long day.  HE. WILL. NOT. SHUT. UP.  Then the bus behind us breaks down.  We are the last two buses in the caravan, so we pull over to assist the problem bus in whatever way we can.  We can’t get all the kids from that bus onto our bus because there are not enough empty seats, so we have to call back the other buses.  They ask for our location.

Now, Mr. Annoying, is FREAKING out. 

“I CAN’T SEE THE STREET SIGNS, WE NEED TO PULL UP, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE WE ARE!  YOU WILL HAVE TO MOVE, THEY WON’T KNOW HOW TO FIND US!!!!”

As he is screaming this, he is waving his iPhone around.  Do you see where this is heading?  I attempt to interrupt his rant several times, before I finally start yelling myself!

“THE GPS ON MY iPHONE GIVES OUR LOCATION.  WE ARE AT……”.  I know I am red-faced and frustrated.  I am about to chuck him out of the bus.  I promise you that I cannot possible recreate the hellish nightmare that was that bus ride because of him.  I wish I had recorded him.  Then he starts hollering at the kids.

“EVERYONE STAY CALM.” 

kids:  staring at him with a mixture of boredom and sleepiness.

“YOU NEED TO NOTIFY YOUR PARENTS THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE AND UNDER CONTROL.  WE MIGHT BE HERE AWHILE BUT EVERYTHING IS FINE.”

omg just stfu.  I can’t take it anymore.

We finally make it home.  I didn’t kill anyone.

Here is a pic of my daughter playing her flute.  I’m going to have it made into t-shirt and wear it to every game!

18 thoughts on “Helicopter Parenting and the One-Upper Syndrome

  1. Quite an eventful experience!
    I was JUST discussing this “helicopter parent” thing with Hubs last week as we were walking through the middle school to Little’s locker on the Open house night.
    Which we totally skipped out of because the idea of sitting in desks and waiting for the bell to ring to go from class to class so we can hear what is ‘expected of’ these kids which is essentially simple: bring your ass to class ON TIME. Bring your shit. Don’t cause me to call 911 OR security, was simply too much for me to take. TWO HOURS of that shit! No way.
    Needless to say…we got many dirty looks from teachers and volunteers alike as we strolled in..let little straighten his locker and stroll out.
    Some kids NEED helicopter parents…unfortunately they are the ones that are only the “fly over” type.
    I don’t need a code to check on my kids grades everyday. I don’t need to receive weekly updates and emails from these teachers. If my kid is a problem pick up the phone and I will take care of it. Do not email me repeatedly at 10pm the night before grades are due to let me know my darling didn’t turn in a worksheet. You know, the one he lost and you refused to give him another. What am I supposed to do? Pull it out of my ass? Give him a zero. That’s what he earned.
    I think they are so busy dealing with these wackjob parents they think we ALL are like that.

    • I hear ya, it’s very frustrating. On the flip side, kids that actually need the support of parents, teachers and administrators, kids with learning disabilities or special needs are often overlooked. It will make you crazy if you spend too much time thinking about it! There isn’t a salary that I would take to be a teacher in today’s world. My hat’s off to them (well the good ones anyway, there are a few bad apples, as in any profession). Thanks for your response and taking the time to read my novella lol 🙂

  2. I had to read this in three parts since it is feeding and bed time routine and my husband and I trade off, I feed, he bathes… Anyway, this post was like an awesome book I needed to get back to. So much so I finally had a chace to just reread it! LOVE freaking love! ‘I’ve had two traumatic experiences this week, the first with a toilet plunger and the second with a motorized scooter’ You cannot make that shit up! and I have no doubt he said the traffic bit. I’l be pusing the hubs.

    I just hope when I start volunteering, a mom like you is there, becuse if I have to deal with a ‘helecopter’ mom I will break her damn propeler blades! 16 years old, I feel sorry for his future wife too.

  3. I have never liked the term “helicopter parents” and I don’t condone the behavior but I have to say I can understand in some way’s. Being a father that didn’t have children until later in life (our only child we will ever have) it can be difficult to not over protect. I always try to give the benefit the doubt and remind myself we tried for almost a decade to have our son and we were to the point of quitting when we finally had him.

    I have to be careful and monitor myself to let him grow up but protect him. Something that can become difficult for me at times is the fact I did child abuse investigations before being a stay-at-home dad. I have seen so many thing and so many ways children have gotten into trouble because people weren’t paying attention that it scares me. I certainly wouldn’t get upset over showing underwear or a curse word though (it’s the way of the world and I have been known to be a sailor a few times in the past myself….yikes!!) In fact one of my son’s favorite words is “shi@” I don’t condone a 3-year-old from saying it but I am not going to encourage it either…..

    I guess what I am trying to say is I always remind myself how much I love my son and how long i waited to have him before I get to upset with someone else and their child. I have been known to try talking to them and telling them we have to let them grow up because that’s our job…..sigh

    My two cents for the day…

    Aaron

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts or two cents 🙂 You make some excellent points, and I value your input. I do try to give parents the benefit of the doubt because I do think we need to stick together. This parenting thing is hard. This particular mom sucked a ton of time from both my son’s teacher and the administrator. This was her first year teaching, and it made her almost not want to continue. She made our son’s first year of school such an easy and amazing transition and set the tone for him loving school, so it made me sad that she felt so beaten down. I don’t think most parents are like this but unfortunately, it’s these “types” of parents that get all the attention these days. There are children with real learning disabilities and special needs that get ignored, so when I see a mom like her in the office every day complaining about something that truly is trivial, it gets me riled. But you are right, I don’t know her story, and perhaps that is something I should remedy if given the chance. I do remember reading in one of your blogs about child abuse investigations. If I let myself think about what could happen to my kids, I would lock us all in the house and never leave! Thanks again for your thoughts 🙂

  4. Haha… Helicopter parents are the worst and they dress all fancy and are stick thin. Yuck. I don’t know how you didnt loose your shit. I would’ve or when you hit a bump “accidentally” junk punch him

  5. I loved this post. The line about muffin top turning into a cup cake is ridiculously funny, It should of been the title!!! I found it very funny. My son would totally pull his pants down and show people his underwear . . . if he was wearing any since he hates them. You sound like a pretty amazing Mom

  6. First: the pic of your daughter really needs to be made into a button to be worn on your boob. Second, about your son pulling his pants down, given the context and his age I just don’t get it. I was just writing an upcoming post and I tell the story of a 3rd grade teacher who questioned my son’s character because she asked for words that start with “p” and he said “potty” (turns out it wasn’t even my son who said it). My point is: Context people, don’t make judgements out of context. Hello? Shouldn’t adults know this?

  7. awwww how cute! she is soooo pretty!!! and LOL i never had a 5th grade graduation…i was in tx lol maybe it’s a new thing lol …oh boy looks like i have a lot of things to look forward to lolol….

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