Family Time | To helicopter or not to helicopter?
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To helicopter or not to helicopter?

To helicopter or not to helicopter?

To helicopter or not to helicopter? That is the question.

Broken arms, concussions, drownings, car crashes. You name it; I’ve imagined it and possibly prevented it from happening to my three kids.

I wave my arms around, spotting them as they climb the ladder up to the slide. I catch them mid-air before their knees are scraped. I shriek and gasp in the passenger’s seat (to my husband Cory’s chagrin).

Sometimes I try to hold it at bay. To tell myself that plenty of people have grown into adulthood despite these head injury factories they call playgrounds.

I recently read a New York Times opinion piece called “Motherhood in the Age of Fear.” The subtitle is, “Women are being harassed and even arrested for making perfectly rational parenting decisions.” It’s about a mom being arrested for leaving her child unattended in the car, with the windows down, just for a second. Kim Brooks writes, “We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second.”

“Free-range parenting,” the concept of raising children in the spirit of encouraging them to function independently, has been in the news these past few years, with debates springing up around a Maryland couple who let their six- and ten-year-old walk home from a playground alone, and a South Carolina woman who let her nine-year-old play in a nearby park while she was at work, among other headlines.

Proponents say free range children are well adjusted, better off knowing they are capable of existing without their parents’ eyes on them. That hovering means kids will never learn to cope with failure or risk; they’ll lack the skills to be self-sufficient. The “back in my day” memes circulate Facebook about playgrounds over cement and cars predating seatbelts, poking fun at the overprotectiveness of today’s parenting.

I wouldn’t go to extremes, but a little bit of hands-off seems like a healthy balance. So occasionally I tell my hover-mom impulse to stand down, for the sake of my kids’ resilience and autonomy.

That was what I was doing when seven-month-old Ellie was crawling around in the yard and playing with Annie, our cat. (She was Cory’s cat before she was our cat. Just saying. It’s not my fault she’s a jerk.)

We ended up in urgent care. On the plus side, Ellie would make the cutest supervillain on Halloween. She kind of looks like Dr. Evil right now.

Ellie was brave and only cried briefly. I panicked, went for hydrogen peroxide, put triple antibiotic ointment on and shoveled more than several handfuls of chocolate in my mouth to calm my nerves.

Glens Falls Pediatrics’ on-call provider recommended Urgent Care. Being so young, they said she needed antibiotics right away because cat scratches are dirty. Urgent Care said pediatrics weren’t her specialty, and to ask the pharmacist about dosage. We had to bounce around to three pharmacies because they were all closing and didn’t have the antibiotic on hand, and ended up driving to the 24-hour CVS in Saratoga.

For the record, soap and water followed by bacitracin and ten days of twice-daily doses of 1.5 mL of Amoxi-Clav is what the doctors recommend for a baby who gets too close to a cat who happens to be jerk.

She’s going to be just fine, but long story short; Independence be damned, I’m getting back in the chopper to go full-throttle at hovering.

This column originally appeared in the Glens Falls Chronicle.

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