Helicopter mum

The schools return tomorrow – hurrah!!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had lots of fun with the mini-Scotts but jeez, my daughter is becoming such hard work.  She’s developing at a rate of knots which is great on one hand, but on the other hand, I’m exhausted, a little exasperated and to be completely honest, terrified.

Exhausted – she is on the go constantly.  She really is like an overgrown toddler.  I remember that stage with her little brother but my saving grace was that he was small enough to lift up and move, and he still had a couple of naps each day.  Tilly is 7, and thanks to a healthy appetite, has gone from a skinny little girl to a solidly built girl who can proudly stand next to other 7-year old girls and not look out of place.  But picking up a naughty 7-year old isn’t an easy task.  My already broken back can’t cope with it.  And like most other 7-year olds, naps are a thing of the past.  This girl has energy!  If I put my Fitbit on her, I’m convinced she’d out-step me most days.

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Exasperated – during toddlerdom, most parents realise they have to inject some discipline into their child’s lives in order to tame the most wilful of toddlers.  I had one of those wilful toddlers in Tilly’s brother so I dipped into a couple of books to get a little bit of advice and direction.  It didn’t take long because I worked out what did and didn’t work – as his communication and understanding improved, it was easy to use ‘friendly threats’ and ‘mini forms of blackmail’ to get him to listen and improve his behaviour.  With Tilly, her communication and understanding is still extremely delayed so many of those tried and tested tactics are completely lost on her.  As far as I know (my google investigations haven’t been fully explored), there isn’t a book I can refer to for tactical moves on this one.  So, after a week of school holidays, and her naughtiness testing me to the limit, I feel infuriated with her – and annoyed with myself for not figuring out a solution.

Terrified – just when you get used to the path that you’re travelling down, an unexpected bend suddenly throws you into a completely different direction.  You feel lost, scared, alone and worried about where you’re going to go next.  That’s where I am (again!) with Tilly.  Her personality is becoming more apparent; the diva-like behaviour I’ve heard friends’ with daughters talk about is beginning to emerge and the sheer determination she has shown throughout her 7 years, a trait I was incredibly proud of, is actually causing me problems!  Tilly and these development leaps that she keeps making are throwing me off-kilter – and it terrifies me.  What if I don’t find a way to adjust to her and her new ways, what if it gets worse and I lose control of her behaviour?  What if I find it more and more difficult and need extra help?  What if I can’t cope with her by myself? What if her new adventurous and brave tendencies cause her to have an accident?  She’s tall enough and inquisitive enough to reach for most things on the kitchen worktop, such as knives, pans of boiling water – its not happened yet but is it going to happen one day when I’ve turned my back for a few seconds?  I will try my best to scan the room we are in for potential hazards but what if I miss one? What if her new skill of opening the front door and having a stroll in our garden results in her one day (on a day I’ve forgotten to lock the door)  walking onto the road outside our house and not seeing a car, or going further away from the house without me knowing?  I will protect her and ensure that I’ve made her environment as safe as I possibly can but what if she catches me out one day?  What if something else needs my attention first and I’m not quick enough to catch her in the act? I’m not a helicopter mum to her brother and I can see how his independence and confidence grows the more I let him try out things by himself – but I will have to be (no, I am!) that type of mum to Tilly.  I don’t have an option.  There were areas of our house I would be happy with her going to by herself because I knew she wasn’t able to, or wasn’t interested in opening drawers, doors, cupboards.  She wouldn’t attempt to climb. But she is doing all of that and more now – her motor planning skills are improving (yay!) but she can now figure out how to open the bathroom door, lift the toilet seat and stick her hands in the water (no!); how to open drawers and pull things out.

Until her development in play begins to improve, and she no longer finds it fun to play with objects she’s not meant to touch (is that purely exploratory, or is there an element of her knowing that it annoys her mum??) I will have to be that helicopter parent and shadow her every move.

In the meantime, I will continue to experiment with ways of disciplining her so that she understands what is right and wrong; and what is dangerous and safe. The cheeky smile she gives me when I tell her off, the giggling and the way she returns to the crime scene whilst giving me those knowing glances all lead me to believe that her communication and understanding are way better than I give her credit for. Wish me luck!  I’m going to need it.

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