Tuesday, July 23, 2013

To Hover, or Not to Hover...That is the Question

Wikipedia defines "Helicopter Parent" as a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child's experiences and problems, named so because they hover, in need of control.

I pride myself in not being a helicopter parent. For example, I am completely comfortable allowing my youngest to wear his t-shirt backwards and mismatched socks. I hardly ever criticize when my middle uses too much hair gel or consumes three cheese sticks even though he really shouldn't. And I almost never comment on the content of my oldest's text messages or her mascara application techniques. They have to learn, right?

But something changed the night before my daughter and husband left for a fabulous, 9-day ecological tour in Costa Rica. The weeks leading up to the trip were full of excitement and shopping for travel-size everything. All the while, I was repressing, purposely ignoring the feeling of panic at the thought of my 13 year old daughter being almost a whole continent away. (Did you know that Central America is actually considered to be part of North America?)

"She'll be with her dad. He's really responsible. There will be tour guides and drivers and lots of other people. She'll be FINE!" Those are the statements I replayed over and over until the night before. Until it didn't matter. Until I panicked!

"What if the zip line fails? What if the horse she gets for their ride doesn't like blondes? What if a crocodile bites her hand off during the crocodile tour? What if she gets (insert tropical name here) fever?" Those are the questions that raced through my mind the night before. It was a dark and scary moment.

So I had two choices: I could give my daughter some gentle safety reminders about the zip line, the horses, the crocodiles and the bugs, certain to scare her, and I could voice my concerns to my husband who knows fully well how to parent and protect her, certain to insult him, OR I could identify the root of my irrational fears...that the trip would be full of experiences over which I had no control. Would being a hovering (even-from-a-distance), worrying mom give me any more control over the situation? Or would it just make me a fun-vampire?

Being a helicopter parent usually has more to do with the parent's need for control than the child's need for support. A few weeks ago, as I teetered on the verge of hypocritically hovering, that distinction became very clear.

So from now on, when you hear the helicopter blades start spinning, ask yourself who benefits. If the answer is you more than them, think again. Our job is to teach our children how to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, safe from risky, it's to foster their self-confidence, and demonstrate how to care for the people we love without controlling them.

(On a side note, they made it home safely, all limbs intact, with no strange illnesses and they had an amazing time.)

{J}

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Waterslides, BBQ, and fireworks...O My!

I cannot believe it's time to celebrate the 4th of July! This summer is already flying by! A slow routine, if any at all, blends the days and nights into each other like a cool summer drink. Suddenly it's time to plan BBQ's with friends and wake up at the crack of dawn with blankets and caution tape to hustle to Founder's and get that "perfect spot". The spot that won't get covered by puffs of black firework smoke or be so loud it becomes impossible to have a screaming conversation with the person next to you. The spot that beckons all your friends and neighbors to join you with glow sticks and red solo cups in hand. Ah, traditions!

This year our family will be starting off the day at the 7th annual Freedom Run. We decided last minute so we probably won't get a shirt but that's ok. We will run, enjoy some pancakes and sausage, and then head back to the hood to slather on sun screen and change into swim suits. Our hood doesn't do a block party so luckily we have friends in high places that allow us to pretend we are part of their block. As long as we bring something good to eat. It just so happens that I found some great recipes for sharing this year. I will also share them with you! (see below)

Wherever your plans take you this Independence Day, I hope it will be full of close family, great friends and good food! Take the time to plan the traditions that will be carried on in your family for generations but also enjoy the subtle quiet moments that make summertime what we all look forward to!

Grilled Corn Cobettes with toppings

Cut corn cobs into 1/2's or 1/3's

Brush with oil and grill about 10 minutes

Prepare toppings in advance:

Herb -1/4 cup butter, 2 T chives, 1 T dill, pinch of kosher salt, whirl in a food processor until well mixed. Place saran wrap over container and chill. Spread on hot corn.

BBQ and Bacon-1/4 cup mayo, 2 t BBQ sauce, 1/2 cheddar cheese, whirl in food processor, chill, spread on corn and roll in crumbled bacon, add more cheddar if you like!

Cilantro-lime- 1/4 cup butter, 1 T chopped cilantro, 1 t lime juice, 1 t lime zest, whirl in food processor, chill, spread on corn.

Basil Mojitos

10 large basil leaves

1/4 cup plus 4 T fine white sugar, divided

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup white rum

1/2 cup club soda

lime wedges

Whirl 3-4 basil leaves and 1/4 cup sugar in food processor until well blended, transfer to a flat plate. Put the remaining basil leaves in a large cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes, the remaining sugar, and lime juice. Muddle the mixture with the handle of a thick wooden spoon. Add rum and more ice and shake to blend. Rub a lime wedge along the rim of a lowball glass and dip in basil sugar. Add ice to glass and strain drink from shaker into glass (don't strain if you want basil pieces), top off with a splash of club soda and garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy!

{H}