Helicopters and Consequences

Some Days (Written November 8, 2016)

There are some days when the sky’s just right,
And there’s something about the feel of the light,
And the air has a smell that so familiar to me
And reminds me of a place where I used to be.

On days like today, when I hear an old song,
I find myself wanting to sing along.
I remember that old, forgotten magic from back then
And think that maybe I can find that place again.


So. I just finished watching Stranger Things. I get the hype. I liked it a lot. And it got me thinking. Nostalgia strikes again. Despite having been born in the mid nineties, I’m in the younger half of a large family- a fact by the merit of which I gain partial eighties kid status. I grew up watching a lot of early nineties’ and late eighties’ shows. And, more importantly, I was raised very much the same way my fourteen and fifteen years older siblings were. Which is a big part of where this show hit home for me. Me and my friends spent more time running around doing crazy and potentially dangerous things than my parents ever knew. It was assumed we wouldn’t do anything too stupid, and we’d be fine. I miss seeing that. 

It’s not that I wish I were a kid again (not that I don’t wish that sometimes), but that I wish the world would remember a little bit of the good that we are leaving behind. I have a good relationship with my parents, and never got into anything I shouldn’t- drugs, alcohol, nasty relationships- despite my parents never helicoptering. My oldest brother is absolutely paranoid that he will be reported to child services if he lets his nine and ten year old children play in the front yard unattended- a paranoia brought on by hearing numerous stories of precisely that happening. I don’t get it.

(Prepare for a bit of a rant. Skip to the end if you want it summed up.)

My two youngest siblings got to enjoy some helicopter parenting after their immediately older sister nearly died from a very bad brain tumor- the case was on medical miracle shows, even. Not surprisingly, the kids younger than her were somewhat coddled. And you know what? The younger of these two ended up making friends with a camping club that believes in getting boys competent and able to think on their feet, able to figure things out. And you know what? Being away from the helicoptering and coddling, he developed a personality and independence. He thinks things through and carefully considers what he is doing, because he is familiar with situations where there won’t be anybody to cover for his mistakes or guide him through his ignorance. He’s learned how to figure it out, suck it up, and enjoy himself while doing so. The older of the two (one year older)? She didn’t ever find friends or activities like that. She cannot imagine having to figure something out for herself. If it isn’t spelled out for her, she can’t do it- even if it is spelled out she might not get it. She isn’t stupid. In fact, she is very intelligent. She is athletic and musically talented. She just can’t do anything without somebody holding her hand. The format of a webpage she uses all the time changed the other day, so she called me up while I was at work so that I could explain to her how to use the new page. It was an entirely cosmetic changes. The page worked exactly like it always had, and the buttons hadn’t moved. But that’s just how she is. And if things don’t go her way, she breaks down and throws a fit. She can’t handle consequences for her actions, or figure things out for herself.

Moral of my overly long story? Two kids who are both intelligent, athletic, musically talented, and popular. One can’t do anything without somebody holding her hand, and throws a fit when she doesn’t get what she wants or when things don’t work out. The other will work through things for himself, only asking for help once he has made certain he can’t figure it out. He understands that he won’t always get what he wants- certainly won’t get something he hasn’t earned- and knows when he is getting what he earned. Why are they so different? One was told to suck it up and get over it when they didn’t get what they liked, and was told to do it themselves. The other was told someone else would do it for them, and had people apologize and offer to make it up to her when she didn’t get what she wanted. Both were every bit as loved by their parents and us older siblings, and both love and respect their parents and us older siblings. I’m not talking about loving a kid or depriving them of love, I’m talking about teaching a kid to understand that you work for what you want and pay for what you do.
Ok, rant over. And yes, I know I sound like a crotchety person talking about what life was like back in my day. All the same, I was never coddled until after I graduated college and I hated it. Help me, keep my best interest in mind, worry about me, if you love me. Don’t try and lock me in a padded cage and live my life for me.


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