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When Did Parenting Get So Scary

I can admit it – I hover over my kids.

I realized this a few weeks ago when I took my daughter to the bathroom at my son’s preschool (we were early to pick him up) and my daughter looked at me and said, “Mommy, can I go in the stall by myself? You can go in the stall next to me.”

I said, “Sure thing.” And we went in separate stalls.

Now, never mind that she goes to the bathroom by herself all the time in kindergarten. For some reason, I’m ALWAYS in the stall with her in public or in the bathroom with her at home. The girl is never out of my sight.

When we are out in public, they have to hold my hand or be close enough that I can grab them if need be. I’m worried about everything – pedophiles, racists, drunk drivers, mean people, kidnappers, you name it. When did the world start feeling so…unsafe?

While I’m not going as far as to buy bubble wrap in bulk and keep my kids nice and cushiony, I do find myself worried whenever they are out of my sight. Who are they talking to? Do they know the rules about strangers? Do they know about “good touch, bad touch”?

It’s exhausting. I occasionally read the posts over at the blog Free Range Kids and it simultaneously fills me with hope and fear. Who are these moms who let their kids ride the subway by themselves or cook dinner at 5 years old? What’s wrong with me that I don’t feel comfortable letting my kids out of my eyesight at the park?

My mother was the original “hoverer.” Once we finally learned how to ride our bikes, she would let us ride from one stop sign to the other, standing on the sidewalk to monitor our movements and make sure we made it back to the house safely. I thought she was crazy until the day she loosed her rules and agreed to let us ride around the block, out of her eyesight. Wouldn’t you know, a man in a van approached me and my sister, asking us if we’d like to get in his van and help him find his kitty. Good thing my sister and I were such brats. “No, we don’t wanna help you find your stupid cat,” we replied, and pedaled off.

I think that might have scarred me. Just a bit. Because what were the odds that the one time she let us go around the block was the time we were almost abducted. That is crazy.

So yes. I’m still a hoverer. But I’m working on it.

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