I am a Jennifer. If we are born in the same generation or close to it, you will understand when I say I am Jennifer. There were a lot of us in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. I think in grade 4, we had 5 in my class, for many years I was “Jennifer D”.
If you understand the million Jennifer’s we probably had similar childhoods. Go outside and don’t come back! We were gone. Grab your bike and go. We ran in and out of our friends houses fending for our selves, making quick calls (normally one) to tell our parents we were still alive.
We used the stove! We made Kraft Dinner, played in the ravine, built forts, got dirty and went home when the street lights came on (well we went in for dinner, then ran out again as soon as it was over).
Every day I ate lunch at school. I hear over and over again, people say to me, when I went to school no one had allergies. I agree, each day I would sit there with my Muppet lunch box eating my peanut butter and jam sandwich. Who knew then… things were going to change and change in a big way.
I don’t know why my son has a peanut allergy or why so many children are getting food allergies at an alarming rate. But I do know something is wrong, and I pray it is something that is figured out make it stop.
Some things I embrace that are different from our childhood: Helmets (excellent idea), Seat belts (also excellent idea), non-smoking houses (I used to buy my mother’s cigarettes – crazy!).
Things that I think kids should still be able to do: run – be free! Grab your bike (with a helmet) and go. Play dates? When did the parents get involved? The kid used to just have to ask their Mom, now we all have to call each other. And phones … I don’t think kids realize at some point, you are not going to want your parents to find you.
But here is my problem, I don’t want to be the “helicopter” mom. I want my 11 year old to start to have some freedoms, but that tug for me is always his allergy. I want my house to be “play date” central, then I don’t have to worry about what food he is eating in someone else’s house and that he is safe. I know him having a phone (we have decided Grade 8) is a good idea, and a big part of that is with him having his allergy – he can call for help.
I go on lots of field trips and hang out at all the birthday parties. And you know what, I have had a great time doing it. We have had a lot of fun together. I almost feel like a shadow sometimes, I am in the corner if he needs me, but want him to feel he still has his freedom.
So when you see an Allergy parent acting like a “helicopter” parent, please try to understand it is not always what they want.