We have a little ritual most evenings where at some point of cuddles on the couch while reading before bedtime, my son will call out for his dad’s ‘rescue helicopter’, giggling and asking:
‘can you rescue me daddy?’
From the other room, dad’s chopper blades can be heard to the growing squeals of my boy as he anticipates the helicopter ride once he’s free from mamma’s arms. They fly around the room and ‘land’ on impossible surfaces— the keys of the piano, the dining table, the top of the child proof fence separating the lounge room from the art studio. All fun, light and laughter no matter how many times we play out this rescue, but the symbolism of his request for a ‘rescue’ from my embrace doesn’t escape me.
The love I have for my son is overwhelming for me sometimes and I fear it may be stifling for him as he gets older. I want to hold him in an eternal embrace and cover his sweet face in endless kisses, but that would be all about me, ignoring the autonomous being wanting to untangle and have me join him in a game of cars or reading instead. This untempered display of affection is my attempt to counter my parents’ style of parenting. I have a greater capacity to love than they seemingly had with their stark and cold approach—mine being an overcompensation to avoid the remotest possibility of being like them. I don’t want to short change my baby of love, but a balance needs to be struck. Or does it? I suspect this question will require greater reflection as he gains independence and outgrows rescue helicopter rides, and rightly so, he is his own person and I need to remind myself of that and respect his boundaries, trusting he’ll know I love him without having to be tackled in a mamma bear hug whenever we’re in close proximity. Ah, the constant reflection, self doubt and winging it that is parenting.
wool mittens, warm hands
no pincer to pick spring blooms
she loves me, she loves…
It warms my heart that when set free from my clutches and doing his own thing, it is never too long before he comes to me and gives me a hug, and some of his last words before sleep each night are “I want a big cuddle and a big kiss and a little kiss and a little cuddle”—perhaps I haven’t OD’d him (yet).
While this post was still in draft, the term ‘helicopter parent’ popped in my head for obvious reasons. Unsure of its meaning, I looked it up. It was absolutely not my intention to suggest I am a helicopter parent, and having read the definition, I don’t believe I am one. In the case of a toddler, helicopter parenting is when the parent is constantly immersed in play or directing of the child and doesn’t allow the child time on their own. Interestingly, one trigger for helicopter parenting is the parent’s own experiences of feeling unloved or neglected as a child. Perhaps my myriad interests and shortness of time have helped me avoid the trappings of helicopter parenting—if my son didn’t have time playing on his own, this blog, my WIP, housework, meals and a whole lot of other things wouldn’t happen.