Last night we all drove in to Manhattan for dinner at Debbie Stier's, where we finally met V. and her son R.
V. has been a frequent visitor to Kitchen Table Math, and has become a friend of Debbie's, so we were long overdue to meet in person.
There was a wonderful moment at the end of the evening that I'm posting because I think it will resonate with a lot of you.
V. had volunteered to drive us back to Westchester, sparking yet another a what-is-the-matter-with-us? moment. Why on Earth are we ferrying two autistic sons on the train, on the Shuttle, and on the subway when we could be driving instead?
No common sense-y.
Anyway, V. had volunteered to drive us all home, and was out getting her car while the rest of us walked to the elevator.
Chris & R. were walking behind us, and Chris brought up something to do with whether or not R. was going to be spending the near future preparing for the SAT.
I heard R. say confidentially to Chris (my college-age son, for passers-by): "You saw my mom."
Meaning: "my mom is intensely on my case about everything to do with academic achievement, so the answer is 'yes.'"
He said this in a tone of .... was it pride?
I think it was both, and Chris obviously thought so, too, because he instantly tried to top R's story.
"I spent my whole childhood hiding from my mom because if she saw me she made me do math," he said. Then he repeated himself a couple of times for good measure.
He was defending my honor.
He'd done the same thing earlier in the evening when Ethan delivered a hilarious monologue about forcing his mother to "un-RSVP" him to an event he had no interest in attending and hadn't been consulted on before Debbie said 'yes' on his behalf. Ethan said he gets emails out of the blue telling him when he has to be somewhere his mother has decided he's going.
Chris said, "I never get emails like that."
"I never get emails telling me I'm going someplace I don't know about and don't want to go to."
Later on, I realized the boys were swapping war stories about their mothers.
War stories and tall tales. My parents' generation told their kids stories about walking 5 miles to school. Apparently Chris & Ethan & R.'s generation, a certain segment of it, is going to tell their kids stories about their mother making them do math.
Why does no one ever seem to notice this aspect of helicopter parenting?
We hear that helicopter parents are terrible parents, destructive to their children and debilitating in every way.
From time to time we also hear a grudging concession that some helicopter parents seem to produce reasonably accomplished kids who are none the worse for wear.
But we never hear, at least I have never heard, that helicopter parents are fun.
We never hear that the family math wars and the SAT battles and the (occasional) shouting matches that are such a vivid part of life with a helicopter parent are moments their children are going to remember and cherish.
Remember, cherish, and tell their own children about.