Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Was Almost a Helicopter Mom!

My daughter loves animals and decided to sign-up for a spring break camp at the Dallas Zoo.  She spent some intense, focused time creating a journal and wrote about how excited and a little scared she was to go.  Wow… she is going to camp without knowing anyone. My little daughter is growing up!
We arrived early (which is rare for us) and found the Camp Advisor. After a brief conversation, I kissed my child goodbye.  I started to drive away when something told me to wait and watch.  I could feel my stomach turn!  What was happening?  She usually connects with people right away – usually having no problem finding her place.  Not this time!  She quietly looked around as the boys were wrestling and the girls were looking at a bug.  She wandered over to a patch of grass next to the outdoor classrooms and sat down by herself!  I was feeling nervous for her.

I waited and waited – surely someone will notice that she is struggling!  No – everyone was in their own world and walked right passed her.  My nausea tripled and I wanted to throw-up!  Here goes the voice inside my head, “I should have put her in the older camp …these kids are too young.”  Then it happened; I couldn’t help myself and started to get out of my car to go rescue her from this horrible situation!

I abruptly stopped. I asked myself what is really going on here?  Is this her experience, or was it my own when I was a child?  Immediately, a picture flashed through my mind of me at school when I was a little girl.  I was feeling left out and nobody noticed.  Tears came to my eyes, as I watched my daughter in this very moment sitting on the grass looking through her bag.  I took a deep breath and allowed myself to feel my own struggle.

I knew it was important that I let her have her own experience.  I couldn’t solve this for her, and instead I envisioned her having a wonderful time with the animals and easily talking with the other kids.  And that is what I did for the next few minutes.  I would love to report that all of a sudden some little girl came over and started talking to her, but that didn’t happen.  The Camp Advisor motioned for them to form a line.  My daughter stood up from her grassy spot and simply walked over and found her place in line behind a red-headed spunky fellow and began walking toward the entrance of the Zoo.

As I drive away, I am now curious about her day and feeling very interested in hearing her side of the story when I pick her up!

Finding my trust,

P.S.  When I picked her up, she jumped in the car and said, I want to come back tomorrow!  And mom, when you dropped me off, I almost started crying.  I wanted you so bad!  But then I found a friend and things got a lot better.”

I gave my child a chance to feel uncomfortable and find her own way.  Instead of being a helicopter mom flying in to “rescue” her from an uncomfortable situation, I understood that my discomfort was simply my own unfinished business, needing to be felt and acknowledged.

NOTE: I am writing this as my daughter is feeling a little left-out at school, and I thought of this story from last spring. I shared it with her and we were both reminded that things do work themselves out and she will find her way ... no helicopter needed, thank you very much!

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