Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Helicopter Parenting

I was next to meet the class teacher during the PTM, for my seven year old, but the mother sitting with the teacher, it seemed, was glued to the tiny chair in front of the low table. I was sure the chair was groaning under the weight of worries the mother seem to carry for her second grader.
For the initial five minutes (I believe that should be the maximum time a parent should spend during a PTM), I sat patiently waiting for my turn, admiring the various posters adorning the class walls. Every now and then, the lady moved a little and I would think that she was finished and pull myself on the toes. But she would ask another question, and I would settle again on my chair, two rows behind her. 
After five minutes, I got curious and tuned to the conversation between the teacher and her. My respect for today’s teachers went up another notch as she patiently answered, explained, assured the lady that everything that her child is doing is absolutely normal for a seven year old. I sighed and looked at the father sitting to my right, who was next after me, and we shared a painful smile.
For the first time I understood the meaning of ‘helicopter mom’. I had heard about this phrase in one of the ‘whatsapp’ messages, which I later googled and found it existed in Wikipedia as well!

Quoting from Wiki: A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead.

The conversation went something like this:
Helicopter Mom: ‘…doesn’t eat at home… very frustrating…’
Teacher: ‘Ya… the kids her age are like that, but if they are active then it is fine. Riya is fine, very active in all the things… don’t worry…’
Me (silently): ‘so what could the poor teacher do, if you can’t plan a tasty, healthy food!’
Helicopter Mom: ‘Do you think I should allow her to join the taekwondo classes, after her painting class…? For, you know, some physical exercise.’
Teacher: ‘Ya… that would be good… but she is interested in dance---’
Helicopter Mom: ‘No… no… her father doesn’t want her to learn dance…’
Teacher: *nods and wisely keeps quiet*
Me (silently): ‘then why did you ask if you didn’t even want to consider her opinion…’
Helicopter Mom: ‘Yeah one more thing, could you change her seat to sit beside Harsh, I want her to sit beside children who are doing well in the class… it will keep her also motivated…’
Me (silently): ‘And what about Harsh?’
Teacher: *now a bit restless* ‘I don’t think it would be possible, we have a system in the class, where all the kids keep rotating the seating position, so that they are friends with everyone and none of them always sit at the same place.’
I silently saluted the teacher and decided she needs rescuing more than anything else. I stood up and parked myself near the mother and teacher’s table, hoping she would get a hint. But no!
Helicopter Mom: ‘Oh yes, one more thing… do you think it is possible for me to come to the annual function practice?’
Teacher: *incredulously glances at me then at her* ‘Everyday?’
Helicopter Mom: ‘Yes, of course. I would then be able to make her practice at home’
Teacher: ‘Thank you so much, Mrs. XXX, but it’s our responsibility. Now if you’ll excuse me, there are other parents waiting.’

Finally it was my turn, I had my standard two dialogues interaction with the teacher about my son, how is he doing and hope he has not done anything naughty and we were finished. The teacher told me to get the form for change in bus route from the bus-incharge in the staff room. 

As I reached the staff room, I noticed the same lady sitting in front of another teacher, jabbering away about poor Riya and I did an about-turn…