Helicopter-ing

Yesterday, Per Christian and I were invited to join a friend of ours on a lovely pirate-esque sailing trip along the southern coastline. Pappa P unfortunately had to work, so we sadly left him at the harbor with a quick kiss and a small (but brief) twinge of guilt.

(For those of you visiting Gran Canaria, it was a lovely day on the water that I would recommend to any family with young children. Check out the photos and link below.)

At one point of the day, I was talking with another mother of a two-year-old who had become fast friends with Per Christian. The kids were happily running from side to side of the ship’s deck, enjoying the sway of the waves and the homemade sprinkler system on board.

I was keeping eagle eyes on Per Christian, fearing that he’d get caught by the tipping of the boat and end up over the edge. I was on one side of the ship and my friend was on the other, guarding each railing in case of any imminent toddler disasters.

The other mother, however, was much more relaxed and suggested I let the kids alone and not be “one of those helicopter moms.” She said it quite nicely without malice, and I really didn’t take offense. But it did get me thinking…

Where exactly is the line between smothering and protecting my son? Surely, making sure he didn’t end up overboard was a far cry from hovering over him like a helicopter. I didn’t interfere with his playing, but I did make sure it was as safe as possible.

I have the same dilemma whenever I’m at the playground with Per Christian. I always stand off on the side and let him raise havoc and make friends on his own (even though half the time I’m holding my breath, hoping the big bully he fearlessly befriended doesn’t wallop him). But does that mean I shouldn’t help when he wants to walk across the tightrope and can’t manage on his own? If I help him the first few times and teach him how to place his feet and how to balance, then maybe the next time he’ll manage on his own. Right?

This article about a mother not helping her kids up the playground slide set off a huge chain-reaction in the blogosphere world. I largely ignored the drama because I hate when people think they have all the answers and all the time in the world to preach to others. But the underlying point of the article may be valid – that “saving” our kids every time they’re challenged doesn’t actually help them in the long-run.

So it seems like my choices are to be criticized for being a helicopter mom, hovering and suffocating my kid, or criticized for being distant and forcing him to learn on his own, even if it means getting hurt in the process.

There’s got to be a balance in there somewhere, right?

Right??

I can literally see my mother at home in South Carolina, reading this post online and muttering to herself, “Well, Marguerite, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

Moms are always right. And that, dear readers, is the moral of this story.

**********************

As promised, here are just a few photos (too busy helicopter-ing to play photographer) from the Cruceros Timanfaya. I give you fair warning about the poor quality of their website, but the great service and kid-friendly activities of the pirates on board definitely make up for it.

CIMG2936 CIMG2939 CIMG2942

CIMG2944 CIMG2941

Advertisements

Dear Per Christian…

First off, let’s get a few things straight.

I understand you’re two years old and in a strange developmental stage of possessiveness. But that ends where mommy’s closet begins. Although it’s quite amusing to come into my bedroom and see you wearing three of my bras and insisting that they are yours….

They are not.

I understand your sleep patterns are changing, but it would be great if you could still go straight to sleep as soon as I put you in bed. And preferably no later than 6 o’clock, thank you very much. Mommy likes to have her first glass of “mommy juice” right around that time, but your later bedtime these past few weeks is beginning to interfere.

It’s all about priorities, you know.

I understand your curiosity is developing about how mommy makes your food, but I’m not sure the counter-top is the best place for you to observe. You seem to have developed an addiction to sniffing our pepper grinder, even though it makes you compulsively sneeze every time. And sneezing makes you giggle (it always has, you’re so odd…), so you end up sneezing and giggling and giggling and sneezing and then I’m laughing so hard watching you that I stop paying attention and whatever I’m making for you gets ruined.

Yeah, so cut that out.

I understand you’re increasingly inquisitive about how things work, especially cars and planes and trains and motorcycles and helicopters. But that does not mean you can vehemently insist that mommy stops watching Masterchef so you can watch race cars and steam trains on YouTube.

I was here first.

I understand that you are learning new words every day, but it would be great if you shared the inside workings of your brain with us slower folk. Three languages in one sentence can take a while to decipher, even though we mask our confusion by nodding and saying “mmm-hmm” to whatever it is you’re spouting.

We’ll catch up with you eventually.

And while we’re on the topic of language, “momma” is not synonymous with or a replacement for any of the following phrases —- “help me,” “give me,” “I want,” “I need,” “I must have ice cream or I will perish immediately.”

Oh, and the songs? The singing? And by “singing” I mean the joyful shouting at the top of your lungs with something that barely resembles language and/or tone?

That can stay.

Despite (or because of…) all the above, Momma and Pappa love you in all your outlandish, mysterious, rambunctious and mischievous glory. Thank you for being two.

Never change,

Mommy

PS – you know that crazy, spontaneous giggle thing you do in the middle of the night, when I know you’re happily, deeply buried in Slumberland? Please, please, please keep doing that. Mommy loves it.

A recent conversation

Mommy : “Good morning, Per Christian! Did you sleep well last night?”

PC : (standing in his crib and pointing to the ceiling fan) “Dubbidida dubba da da gugu ga!”

Mommy : “Oh, was it too cold in your room last night? Was the fan too cold for you?”

PC : (now pointing to the door) “Dubbidida dubba da da gugu ga!”

Mommy : “Oh, you want to say good morning to Pappa? Let’s go visit Pappa while he gets dressed for work.”

Pappa : (speaking in Norwegian) “God morgen, lille gutt! Har du sovet godt?”

PC : (this time pointing at Pappa’s shirt button) “Dubbidida dubba da da gugu ga!”

Pappa : “Oh, you want to help Pappa get dressed for work? Such a sweet boy, thank you for helping Pappa with his buttons!” (Pappa passes PC back to Mommy so he can re-button his shirt.)

Mommy : “Per Christian, can you say bye bye to Pappa before he leaves for work?”

PC : (waving his hand at his own face) “Ba byyyyyyyye… ba byyyyyyye….

Mommy and Pappa melt.

Such a good start to the day.

My superhero self

There are hundreds of articles and pieces of advice out there about what to expect from your post-baby body. Changes in hip and waist sizes (ugh!), changes in bra sizes (fabulous!), hair loss, tender joints and sore lady parts…. You name it, someone out there is postpartum and feelin’ it.

But nobody told me about Mommy Ears. Not visible to the naked eye, Mommy Ears is a curious phenomena that only newly-minted mothers can appreciate. (Fathers are, apparently, immune.)

It results in a heightened sense of sonic abilities – some are so powerful they could land you on the cast of Heroes or X-Men. You can hear the tiniest peep from your little one several rooms away and at all hours of the day or night. You can instantly distinguish your little one’s cries amid all the other noise at the shopping mall or your mommy group meeting. You can sleep through earthquakes and natural disasters, but never through your little one crying.

This is some serious Superhero stuff.

Take, for example, my experiences over the last several nights. Lille Per Christian is teething up a storm, so everything I knew about his sleeping and eating habits has flown out the window. Damn.

So I’m deep in an exhausted sleep and wake suddenly for no reason at 2:50 am.

I lay in bed, body tense, holding my breath.

30 seconds…. 90 seconds…. three minutes….

Whew. Nothing. Roll back over to sleep.

But NO! There it is. A small whimper from the nursery. A pint-sized stirring that warns me my son is awakening at a most unappreciated hour. I leave him for a few more minutes to make sure, during which time his small murmurings become much louder and more insistent. A few more minutes to make double-y sure…. Yep. The little guy is up.

How is it possible that those tiny sounds can travel through walls and sealed doors to snatch me so abruptly from Slumberville? I can sleep through all manner of drunken debauchery on the streets outside my bedroom window, but I wake at this?!

Mommy ears, I’m telling’ ya.

I’m unsure if these abilities will intensify or weaken as Per Christian gets older and I grow more comfortable with my Superhero powers. I half-expect he’ll be a 27-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in the Zambian outback and I’ll still be laying awake at night for the sound of him waking.

But I guess that’s all part of being a Mommy (aka Superhero).

Note: This image is NOT representative of Per Christian during teething.