I'm one of those parents.
I'm the last one to leave the birthday party and the first one back. If I leave at all.
If parents are allowed on the field trip, I'm signed up.
I'm on the sidelines of every softball game from pre-game practice 'til the end and I insist on stopping by the bench at least once during the game to check in.
I hunt her down at the town pool to ask her if she's o.k.
She must text me when she starts walking home from school. If she's not home in less than 20 minutes, I'm headed up the street to look for her.
During school dances, I like to plan an outing with my husband or a friend at a restaurant across the parking lot from the entrance to the gym.
If she's somewhere without me, I'm constantly texting to check in.
I watch her while she sleeps.
People judge those parents. (Actually, people judge just about every kind of parent but that's a topic for another day.) 'Their kids will never gain any independence.' 'Their kids will be wishy-washy' 'Their kids will have no sense of self.'
For the judgers out there, two things to consider:
First the obvious, based on the theme of this blog. You may not know why a parent is hanging around the roller skating party or watching their child like a hawk on the museum field trip. This disease is unpredictable, and when put in unusual situations like the ones I've described, my daughter is very likely to have issues with her blood sugar for which she needs a trained adult's help. I hover because there's a real and ever-present risk, beyond what you can see, to my child's safety.
Second, the interesting part. The same words have come up at every teacher conference since preschool. My daughter is described as responsible, self-aware, and self-confident. How did this happen with me hanging over her for her entire life? I can't say for sure but I try to strike a balance when I can. When it's safe, I encourage independence. She walks home from school with a friend and her cell phone. She's been using a paring knife since she was 8. She attends sedentary birthday parties with uncomplicated food by herself.
When I feel, for her safety, that I must hover I try to be as invisible as possible. I don't roller skate with her (to be fair, there's more than one reason for this decision). I stand back while she hangs with her friends on the field trip. I'm at the umbrella table with the best view of the pool, but I'm usually reading my book. She knows that I'm there to help her with diabetes, not to be incessantly involved in the minutia of her life.
I often wonder if I'd be one of those parents if it weren't for diabetes. It's impossible, of course, to know. I've been hovering over her since before she could walk. It will get harder as she gets older, and I'm grateful for today's technology which makes hovering from a distance much easier. Hopefully I'll continue to be able to strike the balance between being available to help and letting her spread her wings.