I don’t want to be a helicopter parent. But I’ve just spent all morning on the junior high parent portal and coaching my seventh grader through a tearful “corrective” and “proactive” action plan process.
Because my smart, funny, adventurous, gifted-program, advanced-placement, first-born son is getting an F. And a D+. And a C.
Excuse me for a moment: What the #$@%?!!
This is one of those times when I wish the grownups would just get here and take care of everything for me. I’ve had that thought a few times over the last twelve-and-a-half years of parenting and I remember the first one with crystal clarity: my tiny baby with his first cold, a bleary new mom standing and swaying to his mucus-choked screams at 3 a.m.
The words materialized in my exhausted brain and have been there ever since: When the @#$% are the grownups going to get here?
In two months I’ll turn 40, but it’s times like this that I feel just as new as the first time I sucked boogers out of his itty bitty nose with that blue bulby thing or clipped a tiny nail so close his fingers bled or realized, after weeks in the NICU wishing we could go home so I could stop worrying, that that actually would never, ever happen because now I would worry until the day I die.
If this is being a grownup, then all those childhood years of longing for adulthood were seriously mistaken.
Not that I’d go back though, because my son is in agony. He knew about those progress grades for a week and just suffered in silence waiting for us to find out. He missed a surprise ski trip with his cousins today and he won’t be seeing anything with a screen or cell signal for a very, very long time. He’s alternately indignant and anguished as we go through the class portal pages one by one and discuss why these assignments are missing or why he’s been flunking algebra quizzes for a month but not availing himself of the after-school teacher help or where that outline is for the history project he aced (and advanced to regional competition), because losing that piece of paper in his disaster of a backpack meant his grade went from A to C.
If that’s being a kid, I guess maybe being the grownup isn’t so bad.
I have no idea what I’m doing today, if it is right, if it will help, or what will happen next. But I’m doing it, because he is, and we’re in this together.
Me: “Today kind of sucks for us.”
Him: “Yeah, it does.”
Him: Arms out
The grownups are coming, because we are growing up together.