Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the spectrum

No - not the SPECTRUM, as in the Autism Spectrum... that is one I am quite familiar with through my work and one that has received plenty of attention. Nope - I'm talking about the "little-s" spectrum. The "where are you between Free Range and Helicopter Parent" spectrum.

Let me explain...

I thought terms like "free range parents" and "helicopter parents" were universal at this point. I've been using these terms to describe parenting methods for the last couple of years, and I thought they had made their way across the nation (see, I am nothing if not in my own eyes, your 'average Jane').

That was, until my mother stopped me and exclaimed "I have no idea what you are talking about!!!"

So - A Free-Range parent raises their kids much like a free-range farmer.. very few boundaries, allowing them to have freedom. Riding bikes without adult supervision. Going to the bathroom alone at McDonalds. Walking to the school bus (or, dare I say it - even to SCHOOL) alone. Being able to walk out the door and not come home until dinner time - you know - how WE were raised. Too much freedom?? Maybe - depending on how entrenched in the Free-Range concept one becomes, I suppose.

A Helicopter-Parent hovers. There is little or no autonomy for the child of a Helicopter Parent. I've heard stories about HPs going on their child's college interviews.. actually IN THE ROOM... with them. These are the parents who call the school/Principal/teacher and complain about grades, because "Johnny is just NOT a B student.. he deserves his A and you will give him his A". All the while, the parent ignores the fact that Johnny has not turned in any homework in 3 months. This is the same parent who insists on going to the Pediatrician appointments with their child - even at 18.

So, that leaves me wondering, reflecting.. where am I on this spectrum? How does one find middle ground?? Because regardless of which way you lean, there will be hoards of well-intentioned parents telling you that you are doing it all wrong.

I suppose I lean more toward the Free-Range idea. I am OK with letting my boys walk to and from the bus stop. I trust them to GET ON THE BUS when it arrives, and to GET OFF THE BUS in the afternoon. These are not monumental tasks.. I am OK with my oldest saying "Mom, I am going to go ride my bike for a bit". I know he knows to wear his helmet. He knows to not cross a certain street. The likelihood of him being picked up off the street by a stranger are about as good as him being struck by lightening.

But then, I go and drop my middle child off at sleep away camp. In a different state. A five hour drive from home... and I fight the urge to call, to check up and see how he is doing. The camp even sent home a letter, aimed directly at parents like ME - that said, 'you need to trust us to take care of your child'. Yeah - I get that - in theory.

In practice, well, I feel my inner Helicopter Mom coming out! But I know that he IS ok.. that he IS having fun.. that he IS eating well, and remembering to take a shower and brush his teeth. I've done a good job with him so far. I need to trust myself that he will take what I have given him, and apply it.

And is not that exactly what we want for our kids? And if we don't ever give them a chance to try out their skills - will they ever really, truly, learn them??

See - testing boundaries can be a learning and growing experience for EVERYONE involved!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I've not blogged in ages!

At the end of the year, I was too busy to complete a coherent thought. Now that school is over, I am finding myself with less to say!!

We are all doing well in the Jensen house. The boys lasted a full 4 days of summer vacation before I was ready to let them kill each other or have a hand at the task myself. Luckily for everyone involved, we discovered the Boys & Girls Club camp and they've been going daily for 3 weeks. They are happy, the house is quiet and everyone is still breathing. Good sign, on all counts!

Christopher has proven to be the easiest-going little munchkin around. I drag him everywhere, and he goes willingly, never complaining... and we are even having a modicum of success with the whole potty-training concept. Of course, being allowed to run around the house naked seems to help that!

We had some windy days and lost 3 HUGE branches off the tree in the front yard so I have spent the better part of the last two days hacking away at said tree with every chopping gizmo I can find. Have not done a bad job, either.. we will see how she fares when the winds really pick up.. maybe I have a new career in front of me??

I usually complain fiercely about the heat in summer, and I am sure that will come, but I will say we have had the most lovely June weather and I am enjoying every minute of it, for I know what comes next! May was hotter than the holy hinges of hell, and as is typical fashion, things remain that way until about Halloween. However, the weather gods have smiled down upon me, and we've not been at or above 100* for over 2 weeks.

I promise I will try to find things to write about... I do.. just not promising I will actually FIND anything!!