On Helicopter Parenting

I am paying a bill for quesadillas and Greek salad. Along with the ‘so-worth-it’ charges for that sweet slice of heavenly bliss in the form of luscious raspberry pie. It is 6:00 in the evening, and I think to myself, as I close the restaurant door behind me- of all I have to do, all I have waiting for me at home. This supper with two friends was a welcome reprieve from the busyness of my life. From the hectic chaos that is our home at suppertime.  But my thoughts are now on home and those precious five that await me.

I head out toward my van and make my way toward the corner, taking a right onto the main street in our little town. I drive about two minutes down the road when I happen to see on the left two young bikers waiting to cross the road. Mentally, I judge them to be about my two youngest daughter’s ages while I simultaneously wonder to myself why they are out on their own without a parent. As I pass by, I can see the youngest of the two starting to move out into the street. I watch as he does indeed leave the curb and then makes his way onto the street. I am just passing by as he is doing this, so I do not immediately notice that a truck directly behind me is heading straight into his path.  All I am thinking is about is the relief that this child is still waiting by the curbside. The Young Biker doesn’t seem to be noticing a whole lot and appears to fail to notice this detail of the oncoming truck as well. As I move ahead, I continue to watch in my side-view mirror this oblivious child- hoping beyond hope that he will stop and do what I have taught my children and still reinforce almost every time we ride bikes together: to look both ways and do so TWICE before crossing. He does neither. And I am horrified to see that not only is he continuing to move into the busy street, but furthermore that the truck which was approaching is nearly upon him. And then, I see it. A squeal of tires and a child- nearly sideswiped. The little boy is just in front of the truck which has slammed on its brakes and come to a sudden and diagonal stop in the middle of the road.

“Oh Jesus, Jesus…” I start to pray. I watch helplessly as the truck remains motionless for what seems like an eternity as the boy crosses over to the other side. Narrowly missing what he might never fully understand could have been a fatal end. And I wonder what private hell that truck driver has just missed enduring as well. What panic he is experiencing even at this moment, having just avoided the most tragic of possibilities.

This one moment in many moments: it is a defining one. A make or break point in time where eternity pauses for the briefest of seconds to take stock and then breathe again. Do we ever fully understand how much we’ve been given?  Does it make any difference at all?

As a mother, I have had some moments lately. Some which have been challenging and trying, to say the least. We are navigating the waters of adolescence, the waters of sibling rivalry, the waters of struggles for independence and its accompanying challenging arguments. We are constantly teaching and mentoring and coaching and loving.  Constantly called on to exercise limited and short-supplied patience.  And at times, we might come across as helicopter parents: maybe to our off-spring and maybe to others looking in. But these children: they are all we’ve got. They are our one shot at this parenting gig. We are never going to get to do this over again; these four- they’re all we’ve got. And whether or not it is easy to stay the course, hanging in there when life gets tough and frustrating is not the point. This is our life. These are our kids. And we have no other alternative than to give them our very best.

Our hearts demand this.  This is the path we’re on.

So when I see children out on a busy street without a parent to keep a watchful eye- protecting and mentoring and modelling and guiding children in safe bike practices, I think of my own four who sometimes find their old mom a little over-bearing. And I think- “thank Heavens you’ve got a mom like that. She might be annoying and embarrassing and too involved, but her heart is in the right place. And she loves you very much”; and this I know for sure: she would travel for her kids to the sky and beyond if that was needed.

Maybe that’s why they call it helicopter parenting.

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A Life of Intrigue

We were biking tonight, the girls and I.  Previously, I had just finished cleaning up supper when the boys and D. arrived on their own wheels.  It was a night just calling us to the trail- to wind blown hair and rosy cheeks.  To wishes made at sunset. We hopped on and formed a line.  As we pedaled down our road with the setting sun at our backs- heading toward the cousins’ house, I noticed something small and iridescent lying on the ground. Something perfectly formed but completely motionless.

A tiny hummingbird.

It was dark blue- with maybe some green, maybe some red- and it was lying on its side, its straw-like beak just a thin line of black colour. Its eyes were open; as it was on its side, the one eye we saw was like a miniscule black bead. Its wings folded tightly into its abdomen.

It was perfect.

There was no sign of injury. No sign of life either. My girls and I stopped to gaze in admiration at this tiny marvel. How something so small could captivate our attention gives tribute to this marvel of nature. Says something of its benevolent Creator.

I was so intrigued, that as I rode on I started to think more deeply about this little creature. And after a few moments of quiet captivation, my imaginations ran a little wild, as they have a habit of doing. I started to wonder out loud about the life of this tiny bird and question where it came from- thinking about what had happened moments prior to its untimely death and speculating whether or not it frequented the nearby neighbours lovely gardens and bird houses situated quaintly on their veranda. This little bird and its unfortunate demise- a bird known as the smallest of all the types of birds found in the world- was something noteworthy to me. Something worth paying tribute to.

A being worth remembering.

All this has made me wonder further. Such a fragile, delicate bird.  Can it live a life of beautiful intrigue- only to slip into death and still be worth one’s while in remembering?  And if so, how much more then might we as human beings be valued the same? Worth thinking about, wondering over, imagining, pondering, remembering, considering and meditating on? Worth something? Worth the time and effort and patience and deliberation and cost it takes to cultivate a life?

For each sacred life is full of an intrigue all its own- and the stories we tell are never as revealing as the ones we keep in the safety of our hearts. Each life a mystery, a wonder. But still I wonder…are we living our lives as if they were intriguing? Do we really know and understand how incredibly valuable we are? How precious? How important? And are we taking care of these exquisite lives we’ve been given as if we believe this to be true? Believing that our lives are worth caring for as though they were extraordinary?

For that is what they are.

Extraordinary.

We were on our way to the yard sales Saturday morning when our van was halted at the lights on North River Road: a GrandFondo cycling event with approximately 300 riders was ushered through by police escort. In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with an event of this type (as I was until I Googled it): a GrandFondo is a biking event for riders that is not a race- it is a road course. And one can take a competitive approach or otherwise- depending on the preference.

I watched the first hundred riders or so go by- and they looked like the typical racers you might expect at a serious biking event. But as the next hundred passed by, it became increasingly clear that there were many and varied bikers taking part in this event.  One gentleman in particular caught my attention. He was dressed in a bright red tank top and shorts- no brand names or trendy biking shorts worn as attire. And he had a long flowing mane of silver hair. A striking head of hair.  It truly flowed behind him as he pedaled. I was so surprised and interested in that hair, that before I could think about what was coming out of my mouth, I said to the kids, “Look at that guy!”

I immediately regretted drawing attention to him, feeling somewhat like I had made a spectacle of him to my offspring. But as I began answering their questions about the bikers, I realized something about The Man With Silver Hair in the Red Tank Top. I noticed him because he was intriguing.

And incredibly so.

Like the little hummingbird, he caught my attention. And his presence on that road course Saturday morning gave me pause to wonder and imagine about his own unique life and story- a story that led him to live an intriguing life that unfolded in myriad ways until he was led to cross paths with me. And all because I had arrived at the intersection just a little too late.

Nothing is happenstance. And no one is a mistake.

Live your life as if it was intriguing. For it really is.

 photo credits go to http://www.birdsandblooms.com

Here are ten interesting hummingbird facts and general information about hummingbirds as taken from http://www.worldofhummingbirds.com/facts.php :

  • Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world.

 

  • Hummingbirds can flash their bright colors, as well as hide them when needed.

 

  • The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism.

 

  • A hummingbird’s brain is 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom.

 

  • Hummingbirds can hear better than humans

 

  • Hummingbirds can see farther than humans.

 

  • Hummingbirds can see ultraviolet light.

 

  • Hummingbirds have little to no sense of smell.

 

  • A hummingbird’s beak is generally shaped like any other bird beak, just longer in proportion to its body.

 

  • Hummingbirds do not drink though their beaks like a straw. They lap up nectar with their tongues.