Look. He’s eleven-years-old. In just a couple of years, he’ll be a teenager. A TEENAGER.
And it’s the middle of the day. You’re only driving a couple of miles away, to pick up his brother and sister. He’s going to be fine. Just keep telling yourself that. He’s going to be fine.
He needs to learn how to be by himself.
Do you really want him going off to college without ever having been alone? That’s a recipe for disaster. Why don’t you just hand him a bottle of Jägermeister and move him into your basement right now? Because you know that’s where he’s going to end up living for the rest of his life.
Think about it. Your parents left you home alone way earlier than this. Don’t you remember frying up bologna for your lunch, not an adult in sight, wearing nothing but a highly flammable tutu? How about all those times you would jump off the roof when no one was around, pretending you were Mork from Ork? And besides a few expensive therapy bills and some heavy abandonment issues, you’re fine, aren’t you? You made it.
You don’t want to admit it, but you’re a helicopter parent, and studies show that helicopter parents are totally warping their children. Do you want your son to be warped? No, you do not. So resist the urge to call him again. You’ve already called him three times from the driveway and he’s getting irritated.
Just relax. You’ll be gone twenty minutes. At the MOST. Seriously, what’s the worst that can happen in twenty minutes?
A fire can start anytime, anywhere. All he has to do is walk over to the stove, turn on the burner, and set his head on fire. Sure, he’ll think it’s a funny idea. But ideas and reality are two different things, and suddenly he’ll be running around the house with his head on fire, and there’ll be no one around to put it out.
Okay. Deep breath. You told him not to cook anything on the stove, so chances are he won’t. If he’s hungry, he’ll just get something from the pantry.
You know what a fast eater he is. You won’t be there to remind him to slow down. It’s just him, his elephant-sized tween appetite, and a bag of cheddar popcorn. He’s probably flailing around the house right now, choking on popcorn, with his head on fire.
Relax. You don’t even have any cheddar popcorn.
Okay, that’s good. Slow the car down. You’re driving like you’re in a NASCAR race. You’ve established that he’s not choking and his head is not on fire. There’s really not a whole lot else that can harm him.
Wait—was The Prince of Tides a true story? What’s the closest prison to your house? Is there an app you can get that alerts you to prison breakouts? You should call him. See if any escaped convicts are there. If someone is tattooing his neck, you’ll hear it in his voice.
Okay, he didn’t sound nervous. He was just angry that you keep calling. Apparently, this is harder on you than it is on him. Well, that’s parenting for you, isn’t it? They’re oblivious, while you get put through the ringer.
Look at you. You’ve had a whole car ride to yourself and you haven’t even enjoyed it. This was the only moment of your day when you were going to be truly alone, and you spent it having a meltdown. Your child is safe at home—not on fire, not choking on the popcorn you don’t have, and certainly not fending off criminals from a prison breakout.
And now you’re here. You’re covered in sweat, but you’re here. Just pick up your other kids and then take a leisurely, non-dysfunctional ride back home.
I’m proud of you. You did it. You watched him let go of the apron strings a little today. Remember, it’s all about baby steps. Theirs and yours.
Maybe you should call him just one more time, though. To let him know you’re on your way home. That’s not being a helicopter parent. That’s just being polite.
This original piece by Holly Hester was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured photo © depositphotos.com/toa55.