|Original image by ptnphotof on Dollar Photo Club|
Dear Helicopter Momma….Yes, you over there lurking by my classroom window five minutes after school started,
First off, I want you to know I get it. Since having my children I totally understand the overwhelming, primal urge to keep anything bad from happening to them…ever. I love that you want to protect and take care of your baby. There are so many parents out there who, for whatever reason, are unable to do just that. So I start my letter to you with a kudos because I know your heart is truly in the right place…even if I wish you would let go just a little bit.
Speaking of that baby of yours, she’s not so little anymore. I know, I know…she’ll always be your baby. Like I said, I get it. However, it is time to let her forge out into this big, bad world a little bit on her own otherwise she may never learn how to manage it. The good news is, I am here to keep that world from getting too big or too bad when she is in my classroom. What I am saying is, it is okay to let her walk to class on her own. Sure, you can drop her off at the front door of the building. (You’ve only got a few more years before she starts wiping off your kisses and trying to avoid hugging you in front of friends….take advantage while you can!). However, once you get in the door, let her walk up those stairs on her own. I promise I will be there in the classroom waiting for her to arrive. Who knows, she might even make a new friend on the way!
I also want you to stop “helping” him with his homework. No, I don’t mean you shouldn’t look it over. I also don’t mean you can’t sit there and watch him do it. However, I hope you know that I wasn’t born yesterday. I know your child’s handwriting…I also know that he doesn’t have any idea how to spell half the words he wrote in his homework….or that today’s 14-page paper was 2 paragraphs when he left yesterday after he’d been working on for three weeks. I hate to break it to you but no one is fooled. I get it if you had to help him out and do the writing because it was a late night, and he was orally giving you his answer because he HAD to have a shower after soccer practice…or whatever reason. I get it. Life happens. Just be up front about it, please. There is nothing that will hurt our relationship more than me thinking you are trying to pull one over on me.
This one might be hard, Momma, but it is also time to let him start taking responsibility. From the moment he walks in my classroom door, I am telling him how capable and smart he is. I know you are doing the same thing at home. However, the difference between you and me is that I am also showing him I believe it. I know you are trying to help by bringing his homework up because he forgot it…or dropping off his lunchbox….or emailing to tell me he has the sniffles. However, all he is learning from this is that he doesn’t need to be responsible. You’ll do it for him….and he knows it!
Don’t believe me? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he throws you under the bus when you don’t pick up the pieces. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Mrs. D I thought I had my homework, but my mom forgot to put it in my backpack.” or “My mom was in a hurry this morning and she forgot to put my lunch in the car.” Yep, it is true…your sweet baby throws you under the bus, but don’t worry. I remind him that it is HIS lunch and HIS homework, and YOU have so many other things to do that he can start to take care of his own homework/lunch/shoes/etc. All I ask is that you join me in supporting him in taking on that responsibility…if for no other reason than to him to stop tattling on you!
I know that is a hard pill to swallow, so I want to make you a few promises. Hopefully it will ease your mind a little. I promise I will never let your baby starve. Sure, she might not have those Double Stuff Oreos you always pack her, and her sandwich might not have the crust cut off…but she will survive. I will send her through the lunch line and for less than $3 she will have food in her tummy…even if the money has to come from my own pocket. I will not let your baby starve. Before you start telling me about the evils of school lunch. Yes, I have seen school lunches, and sometimes they truly are not pretty. I get that you don’t want her eating that stuff on a daily basis. However, SHE is probably feeling the same way, and tomorrow (when you give her the responsibility for her own lunch) she won’t forget again!
|Image from Kenzie Kate|
I also promise that when he forgets his homework I don’t send him to the dungeon…or the office…or the pits of hell. I swear I don’t. Do we have a little chat about responsibility? Sure! Is there a consequence? Sometimes. But isn’t that the way life works? Yes, I may take five minutes off his recess. He will survive. And while I am at it, let me let you in on a little secret. The more honest he is about his forgotten homework and the more personal responsibility he takes for the situation, the less likely I am to give that consequence. The best part is that when you let him take responsibility, next time he will double check his backpack before you leave.
Finally, I promise not to let her fall flat on her face. Failure is an important part of life…but sometimes failure shows a lack of effort. While your child may occasionally come home with a grade you consider failing (or even a grade I consider a failing), I promise that if I am worried about her academic progress I will be on the phone, sending emails, and you won’t be able to get rid of me. Sometimes I give students enough reminders to show their work…or take their time…or write neatly I finally decide to give it the grade it earned rather than hand it back again. This means the grade might not be that A you are used to seeing and expecting. Take the time to look it over and instead of emailing me immediately about how I need to change it, ask your child what SHE is going to do to fix the problem…or even what the problem is. I promise she knows. I’ve spoken to her about it…maybe more than once, and she is hoping you’ll call ME instead of calling her on it.
Remember when you used to do all that cool stuff? You had hobbies, interests, and things you did besides being mom. You were a pretty amazing lady, and it is time to go rediscover that while your child gets the chance to grow and learn. I want to work with you. I want us to be a team, and most of all I want your child to learn and grow this year. However, in order for those things to happen, I need you to step away from my classroom door so I can start our day.