I was born in the 80’s and grew up in a time when parents didn’t freak out about every aspect of their kids’ lives on a regular basis. I remember riding in the front seat of the woodgrain station wagon and using just the regular seatbelt when I was six years old. Nowadays apparently some people keep their kids in car seats or booster seats until they’re in middle school. Really? That seems like overkill considering that I knew how to drive a car already by then. I remember drinking water from the garden hose, playing outside independently without constant helicopter-like supervision, and the ultimate treat that was a McDonald’s Happy Meal with chicken McNuggets, fries and orange pop (yes, it’s pop because I’m from Ohio 🥤 ).
We live in a totally different world now. 12-year olds are still sitting in car seats like babies, kids sit around staring at screens under constant supervision instead of running around outside, and even McDonalds went soft. Apple slices and HI-C? Come on now, it’s not that bad to let Junior have some french fries and pop as an occasional treat. I feel bad for kids these days, and I never thought I’d even remotely resemble one of those helicopter moms I scoff at.
I became a dog mom early last summer when we adopted Miles, and we adopted Crackers just a few months later. After being responsible for only myself for so long, it was a transition taking responsibility for other living creatures (especially the kind who don’t speak English and never will). As often as I swore up and down I would never be one of those ridiculous helicopter parents, I can’t help but keep a close eye on my fur kids because they act so much like toddlers sometimes.
Miles especially likes eating things he shouldn’t eat when I’m not looking, so I always have to worry about him swallowing something toxic or something small enough to choke him. When it comes to the two of them together, they have some sibling rivalry as well, so I get nervous and check on them when it gets too quiet, just to make sure everyone still has all their ears and paws attached (so far so good). I find myself reading labels to make sure a food is dog-friendly before sharing and yes, I insist on lots of hugs from them because I deserve hugs in exchange for all the sanity I’ve lost to them. If that makes me a bit of a helicopter dog mom, so be it.
I don’t consider my helicopter tendencies to be as bad as helicopter-parenting humans, however, because my dogs will never be expected to go to college or get a job. Think about it, little humans are someday expected to grow into productive, self-sufficient adults, and that’s going to be difficult for a kid who’s never been allowed or encouraged to be independent before age 18. When you think of it that way, it makes sense that we’re suddenly seeing so many 30-somethings still living at home with their parents (like my ex-boyfriend, but that’s a story for another time).
It’s way too quiet out in the living room. I better go make sure both fur kids are still there and in one piece. Also, I’m suddenly craving chicken McNuggets and orange pop.