The view from the car window-why you’ll find me every morning hanging out in the school parking lot

Helicopter parent-“one that takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the lives of their children”. I think every weekday morning for 15 minutes in the school parking lot I could be accused of this by my kids and I’m ok with that. I’m really, really ok with it actually. Some things in this world we live in scare me to death. School shootings, abductions, bullying just to name a few. I’m not with the kiddos all day to protect them from any of these things that worry me but for those few minutes I can be.

Let me explain. Let me give you the details..that’s what this blog is about after all. The details big and small. This year my youngest started kindergarten and joined her brother at “big school.” From the time she received her preschool diploma (yeah that’s a thing I swear) all she talked about for months was going to the school where big kids go. At the same time my son decided that he was far too big for many things. No hugging anywhere near school (“mom the hug is implied”..are you kidding me??). No need to pick up at school anymore-he’d like to take the bus. Finally no more waiting with him in the morning before school until the gates opened. He pleaded his case well. He was responsible, knew the rules and wanted to visit with his friends without his mom there. Of course his sister jumped on the bandwagon as well with one exception-she’d still like the hug. So there’s a consolation prize, thanks kid!

I don’t want to be one of those parents who hovers. I don’t want to not allow for independence and growth. I certainly don’t want to be the cause of the eye rolls and complaining..but well..I’m learning there no way to completely avoid that! But what I don’t want even more than any of these things is to be too trusting and overconfident of our surroundings. We live in a lovely community but unfortunately lovely communities are not immune from tragedy. I just plain hate that by the way, it shouldn’t happen period..but that’s another post.

My solution for balancing my need to protect with their desire to do it alone might sound a bit helicopter like. I parking lot stalk them..I do..I freely admit it. I walk them to the sidewalk and walk back to the car and sit..every morning..watching. I usually do so wearing one of my many pairs of yoga pants from my throw this on quickly collection while sipping from a travel coffee mug. But I’m there, face nearly pressed against the windshield. I watch them chat with their friends and laugh. I watch them argue with each other from time to time. I also watch the people around them too. I watch until I see them disappear into their school. I watched today and I’ll be back tomorrow doing it all over again.

There is another option obviously. To arrive later and just have them walk right in. Totally get that. They have friends in other classes they want to see before they are separated all day and I get why they want to get there early to catch up. It’s a good time to get silliness out, to tell jokes and probably (I’ll hazard a guess) a good time to joke about your crazy mom sitting in that car right over there and how ridiculous that is to them.

I ask myself some mornings as I see other parents drop off very early outside a locked school with no adult supervision if there would ever be a time I’d be ok with that. The truth is I don’t know yet. What I do know is that I wouldn’t leave them alone outside a park, movie theater, mall or any other place and just drive away at this age. I wouldn’t. They are my responsibility until they walk through that gate, certainly not another parent’s responsibility or that of the people behind the locked gate. Unlocked, yes. Locked, no.

Even though the kids never look back they know I’m here…4th parking spot to the right. Deep down there’s a sense of security I know they have in that. I make no apologies for owning that spot 5 days a week. It’s mine. Slots 3 and 5 are free for the taking..any helicopters or other vehicles of any kind are welcome!

I’d like to give a special shout out to another mama who is currently working hard to rally support for safety in her own child’s school parking lot. Lauren and I have mom hunger games saluted many a morning! Her children now go to other schools and the unsafe situation at her son’s school with dangerous traffic demanded her attention. She has been interviewing with tv stations and rallying parents to change this. Both of her children are wonderful friends to my son and I think spent a few mornings joking about his mom in the parking lot! I’m so proud of you Lauren for all you’ve been doing as a mom warrior and the wonderful kids you are raising, a credit to your parenting!

Janet