Better Daze: Chopper down, mom to blame

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Helicopter parenting. I’d never heard the term until Nicholls State’s freshman orientation, let alone have considered myself one.

But the “raise your hands if you…” survey that followed indicated otherwise.

College administrators – aka university traffic controllers – reportedly spotted the uptick in chopper moms and dads in early 2000. In general, they blame my age group – Generation Jones, those of us sandwiched between late Baby Boomers and Generation X – for hanging on, hovering above; rarely out of our children’s reach … whether they want us there or not.

Friends and family swear they saw it, despite my denial. In my own defense, I remember seeing these parents, too, around the airport.

But I digress. My point is, I’m Shell and I am a recovering rover when it comes to my teen.

Admittedly, I’m not as bad as some; I’m not a big Bell or Apache. At orientation, the big helos were quickly apparent. Those were the hands still in the air on the embarrassing questions: Who regularly calls their student to wake them up? Who still coordinates their teen’s wardrobe? Who has gone to a teacher to complain about a grade? Who sent the email for their child to schedule orientation?

I’m not that parent.

Sure, I keep tabs on schedules, tend to hound too much about returning phone calls and emails and stress optimum performance. I call it love; my teen probably has a different term.

The spring orientation, I suspect, was held to keep my fellow meddlers and me at bay. Our parents-only session included information on financial aid, out-of-class opportunities, student perks and dorm life. (By the way, they’re no longer called dorms; they are residence halls … it’s less institutional, they tell me.) While we were locked away in the student union, our teens were off doing the tough stuff – making friends, learning the ropes and scheduling classes – WITHOUT US.

For us long-term fliers, it was agony.

Since that day, I’ve retired my pilot’s license. The ‘thank you’ cards from high school graduation are probably still in the wrapper. I suspect her email box is filled with ignored messages. LSU’s Honors Program is likely still expecting her to show up this month. No telling where her keys are, and don’t even get me started on her constant scramble to figure out what day it is and where she’s supposed to be.

I’m holding my ground, trying to butt out as she grapples with adulthood. But after 18 years, it’s hard.

Maybe that’s why we’re called Generation Jones; I’m like an addict, jonesing to fix everything.

After what seems like an endless countdown, my teen moves into Nicholls’ dorm/residence hall Saturday. It’s new territory for both of us – semi-retirement as a hoverer for me, full-time responsibility for her.

I’ve been reading “You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me”), a parent’s guide for mentoring college-bound kids penned by Marjorie Savage, the director of University of Minnesota’s parent-liaison program. A friend who’s been there, done that and has the T-shirt to show for it suggested the book.

And if it doesn’t pan out, I still have my helicopter pilot’s manual.