What kind of parent will I be? This has been running endlessly through my head as I watch the wealthy, well-dressed helicopter parents drop their children off at the school across the street from my house (the crappiest house on the block). Fussy moms who never stop scolding, nagging, picking, or correcting. I watch them unload their designer children from their BMW SUVs and think I will never be a hovercraft parent like them! Kids need space.
But then there is the inverse, like I saw today while I was shopping for baby furniture in Ikea. Two children (we shall call them Janie and Jimmy) were tumbling around on the demo bed, as children are known to do in department stores. I paid little attention to them until Janie yelled “hey! Eeeewwww gross! Mommy, Jimmy wet the bed!” Jimmy was silent for a moment. Janie ran up to her mother, who was pawing listlessly through a bin of pillows. “Mommy, Jimmy wet all over the bed!” she said again. “Well, we all have to go to the bathroom sometimes!” Jimmy said sullenly. The mother cast an eye towards her son, and then returned to shopping, wordlessly. I looked at Jimmy. He appeared to be about 10 or 11 years of age. He had, indeed, wet the bed.
I can’t draw any conclusions from this about which extreme I should lean towards as a parenting style. I feel more confused than ever about raising a well-mannered child who still has a strong sense of freedom and independence. The incident at Ikea did send a loud a clear reminder to me, however: Never, ever sit down on a demo bed in a department store.