Helicopter parents are a rare breed and they're out there, shining as bright as the closest star. You can always tell a helicopter parent from miles away. They're the grown-ups on the playground following their kid from slide to slide. I completely understand following a younger toddler or a kid with special needs -- any other kid -- their parent is fair game. I'm far from a helicopter, mainly because when I tried to be one, my son said "mama, sit over there on the bench and read your book." Free pass! He went about his business happily having "childhood" like I've never seen him before. This is common practice now with us at the playground, I bring my book and he picks out the bench I'm to sit on.
I have full view of the playground and sometimes watching the helicopters can be more entertaining than reading my book. There they go, following their kid's every move, telling them how to climb the stairs, what to say to other children, advising them not to run too fast and their relentless recommendations on which activity the child should do next. I have to bite my tongue at the park because my desire to express my opinion that children should be running free, trying new things and experiencing success and failure is part of their growing experience. Then I remember I can't do this because my way doesn't mean it's the "right" way or the "best" way to raise kids.
Growing up, all the kids in my neighborhood were allowed to "play outside until it's dark." We ran wild and probably much farther away from the house than our mother's suspected. I'm not quite there yet and I'm not sure I ever will be. This laissez faire parenting style is remarkable, more so that I'm still alive to tell it. I believe in a balance, a little freedom with a close eye. We like to stay at the park for hours and my son will play the ENTIRE time, his energy is profound. If a situation arises, I try and let the kids work it out for themselves first, before I intercede. On occasion, I'll spot a mom's head spin around like the exorcist trying to find the child's mother (that'll be me), for a silly reason. Once, it was because my son didn't go down the slide fast enough. I saw the whole thing happen and watched the helicopter take her concern level from "helping her son get down the slide" to full on panic mode. Tranquillo.