I Bet You Heard Those Helicopter Mom Chopper Blades

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I wrote this post late Saturday afternoon:

I don’t want to be a helicopter mom. I don’t want to be someone who constantly battles anxiety and worry.

My baby boy, Joey, turned 17 last week. In a few short weeks, he will attend the prom with a lovely girl who he counts as a good friend.

Earlier in the week, he asked about taking a short road trip with his friend to hike in the woods. This park is around an hour from our house.

My first thought was NO. Then I considered my first thought a few minutes and then thought FUCK no. 

I don’t want to be unreasonable. He has been driving for a year. He’s responsible. And that is very nearly true!

Randy and I decided to let him go.

Saturday morning at 8:10 am, Joey left to pick up his friend.

At 8:4o am, my phone rang. Joey was on the other end. He told me that he had been in an interstate accident.

The chopper blades whirred out of control.

I knew it was a mistake. We shouldn’t have let him go. In fact, we should put a tracking device on him and never allow him to leave the house again for as long as I’m alive. 

The accident was in no way his fault. He was rear ended and no one was injured. My car sustained damage, but can still be driven.

I called the police. After he ticketed the other driver and ensured the proper exchange of information, he spoke to me on the phone. He assured me that Joey and his friend were fine. He assured me that the car was safe to drive. He assured me that Joey was not overly shaken and had handled the situation well.

I wanted Joey to come right home.

That grinding sound you heard Saturday morning was me, making a herculean effort to stop my chopper blades from spinning so hard that I changed the earth’s trajectory around the sun.

I let him go. I told him to be careful and to have fun. I told him to be an adult and if he or his friend suddenly felt ill or headachy to call immediately. I told him to pay attention to the feel of the car. I asked him to text me through out the day because I was freaking out.

I had a five minute long episode where I sobbed and laughed hysterically. Then I began taking my anti-anxiety medicine as prescribed. I usually use it as a security blanket. It’s there if I need it.

I needed calm.

I sent him a text an hour later to see how he was feeling and he didn’t respond immediately.

The helicopter control tower leaped into action. You’ll have to imagine the crackly radio noises going along with the dialogue because apparently, my helicopter control tower has antiquated equipment.

Momma bear attempted contact 97 seconds ago. I repeat, it has been 97 seconds with NO response. GO GO GO GO.

The blades churned. Ground control took their positions by running in circles, screaming, and waving their arms about.

He called before I worked up too much steam. He assured me they were fine and that the weather was beautiful and they were happy.

He’s still there right now. Randy and I are spending the day on the deck listening to music.

I had a bloody Mary and some bourbon for lunch.

I’m not a helicopter at the moment. But my pilot is on standby.

Edited on Sunday to add: 

Holy shit, you guys, the back of my car is smashed as fuck. We can still drive it, which is good because we had a family birthday party to attend today. Sure, the car pulls to one side and the transmission seems haunted, but we can drive the car. Joey spent the night at a friend’s house last night even though I wanted nothing more for him to stay home so I could stare at him. I didn’t sleep much last night.

I guess tomorrow we’ll find out what happens with insurance claims and car repairs. What a pain in the ass.

I’m also having a hard time warding off the truly horrifying ‘what if’ thoughts. My helicopter blades were kept under control this weekend, but that didn’t do a goddamn thing to keep the anxiety at bay.

In the end, I just remember that no one died and everyone is safe at home right now.

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84 comments

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  • I would have been worried sick, too. The best thing though is that you didn’t go running after him to fix the owies and make it alright.. He handled it, and made it alright. And he slept over at a friends house . You did good!

    • I did…but it was HARD. holy shit.

      I ended up taking him to the ER today…he’s had a sore neck and a bad headache. He’s fine. Mild whiplash. Not surprised though..my car was smashed to hell. I got the rental today and it’s way nicer than my car. I am not going to want to give it back

  • Very glad he’s okay and glad you handled it without taking off into orbit, that must have been a tough one. Yep, cars are designed to crumple now to lessen the impact so it probably looks a lot worse than it actually was.

    In the UK you normally get a poxy little car that’s nowhere near as nice as your own so at least there’s that.

  • OMG. I so could have written this. My daughter is driving across the country in two weeks and I just want to shout “Here is the money – take the plane!”.
    Thank god for upping my meds.
    Does it ever get easier?

    No.

    Just.

    No.

    Maybe we could share the pilot?

  • I almost threw up reading this. UGH. How am I going to handle the teen years??? You made my blades start to turn six years ahead of schedule. THANKS.

    P.S. Glad he’s okay. Sucks about yer car.

  • Now I’m feeling guilty about all of the bullshit I put my mother through… I remember her calling me “the uninhibited child”, but was oblivious to that being mom-code for “the actively self-destructive child who is making my beautiful red hair turn gray…”
    I was, however, struck by it one time: I was being wheeled into the waiting area of the ER after a CAT scan and a head series when the radiologist told my mother “we x-rayed your son’s head, but we didn’t find anything…”, but even more than the sarcastic joke, what I remember about that is the look on my mother’s face as they wheeled me in, like she was wondering “is this the time when they bring me the chunks that used to be my son?” Which is a somewhat valid anxiety when your son starts racing motorcycles at age 12.

    • Your poor mom…that had to be really scary.

      I was also the one who turned my mom’s hair gray. Or white in her case…not with motorcycles though..I believe that would have done her in.

  • My babyboy just turned 17, but in Australia they are not allowed a full drivers licence until they’re 18 …. exactly the same age they are also legally allowed to drink… They get a learner’s permit at 16 and have to do a minimum of 120 hours driving practice ( which they log) and we have to sign a declaration that they’ve driven in rain, at night, through major cities, on freeways etc etc… before they’re allowed to take their driving test. Then they have a provisional licence for 4 years with strictly zero blood alcohol limit and a car of limited power for the first year…. It’s super regulated…. but I am already totally flipping out…

    But your babyboy did you proud. Well done you.

  • So glad he wasn’t hurt badly. It could have turned out so differently. I know it wasn’t his fault, and I’m sure you have already schooled him in this, but please, please, please, use this incident to again stress the utter importance of staying focused on the driving, and not on other things, especially cell phones. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
    Hugs.

    • Oh I did…trust me…we talked quite a bit about it. How very fast and brutal this can happen. And how important it is to be alert because you do not know what another driver will do.

        • Yep..I have too..that’s just safe, right there. I need to remember to discuss this with my son. He’s skittish right now, but that’s to be expected. Hopefully, it will be a lesson that he takes to heart. I think it will.

  • Always good to remember the important things, like nobody was hurt. I still remember the day my son got his license and I watched him drive away, with a piece of my heart and the thought – he’s driving right out of my life. This was a fun great read. It’s good to look at ourselves and laugh.

  • That is the scariest thing in the world. I worry when my younger kids are at sleepovers. When they get older and you put a car in the mix, that’s code red time for me.
    I’m sorry about the car and that you were under so much stress but I am really grateful that your son is okay.

  • Shoot, all the self-induced accidents I used to get into I believe explains why I have a tendency to roar up the chopper blades. I was just telling my oldest (13) last night that I’d like to keep him locked up in the house forever so nothing bad happens to him. We were talking about smoking (hookah and whatever else) and I’m scared to death my kid is goibg to give in to peer pressure.

    • Yeah..that’s a tough one. And it happens..I know it does. All you can do is guide them and hope they make the best choices. I will say this..don’t stick your head in the sand..if you suspect ANYTHING..then check it out.

      • I think you are right on with that. Never stick your head in the sand. Be a pain in the ass. It only shows you care and too bad how sucky they think you are. They will look back and know you were there for them and CARED!

  • We worry so much when they are little, but I think it is even harder as they grow up and away. It’s not like you can turn that off again. “Oh, she’s 18, I can stop worrying now”.

    My daughter is 20 and away at college and I worry about here EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  • Hey girl-

    I am so proud of you. I was throwing up in my mouth a little as I read this. I am 51 with a 9 year old son. I did it at this age simply bc when he gets to that age I might be demented by then and won’t know what the fuck is going on and won’t have to worry.

    I would have been a wreck. You did all the right things. Good girl!

    Jill

    • THAT was good planning on your part.

      Yeah, it all turned out fine..but I was terrified..I was having a hard time forming words once it was all over.

      HAHAHA. I always have trouble with that, though.

  • OMG, Michelle that is frightening! Both my kids have been driving for a few years now and I still get nervous when they’re going on a road trip (in winter!). Touch wood, all has been good. My daughter drives too fast and my son…well he drives too fast too. They laugh at me when I’m in the passenger seat. The bastards. Glad everyone is safe and your car is fixable and still operating.

  • You’re an amazing mother, but not because you worried. You’ve gone an excellent job because your son called. He didn’t just call when the accident happened. He called to tell you things were fine. He cares enough to want to reassure you.
    It just sounds like you’ve raised a son who’s flexing his independence, but doing so responsibly because home is a place he may want to spend time away from but also wants to return to.

    That’s a special thing.

  • Yeah. This is why I don’t have kids. I well remember what I was like at that age. The fact my Mother also put a curse on me by saying “I hope you have something just like you!” I decided after much thought that I really wasn’t in the mind set to go to prison for killing something ” like me”. But I will say a prayer for you.

  • It sounds like your boy handled things well, and so did you. Not a helicopter parent, just a good mom – there was nothing OTT in your reaction at all. I’ve been there a few times with both of mine, and the worries just seem to get bigger the older they get. Glad he is (mostly) OK, sorry about the mangled car and glad to hear that you survived, scathed but ready to face the next debacle!

  • Oh God I remember those days of sleepless nights and constant panic! I don’t know if you remember much about Dry Ridge but my daughter was working at the KFC by the interstate when she was 17. It was pouring rain so I left her my newer car thinking that it was safer than her old blazer. She was coming home from work at midnight down RT 22 heading towards Owenton. She hit a curve too fast and almost slid off the huge drop-off and over corrected where she somehow managed to flip my car end over end three times and slammed into a concrete culvert!!!! She got out of the only opening left in the whole car, her driver’s side window and laid in the middle of the road until someone found her. All she had wrong with her was a small cut on her finger! I couldn’t stop looking at her for days and days! She was so unbelievably lucky and then is when my gray hair first appeared!

  • I may need to borrow some of your anxiety meds after reading this. My son gets his driving permit this fall. I am trying to imagine the day I send him off in a car by himself. I’m thinking of planting some kind of tracking device under his skin while he’s sleeping. You handled this well though. It was hell for you but you did the right thing letting him go. Those 97 seconds when he didn’t return your call? They have NO IDEA what that does to us.

  • I tweeted about son’s most recent accident – 2 wks ago he was following too closely in rush-hr traffic, rear-ended an Audi which nonetheless did $2600 damage to plastic parts…
    His 1st words when he called me???
    “Mom don’t freak out but I had an accident!”
    Easy for YOU to say mijo!!!

  • Glad he’s ok and you stayed reasonably calm considering the circumstances. I remember my mom always telling me call when I got home as I was leaving to drive back to college and thinking, “seriously mom, I’ll be fine.” Now I do it to her when she visits me and is leaving for home. I don’t know what we ever did before cell phones.

  • I don’t know how I’m going to handle it when my boys start driving (or flying space cars by then as they’re only 4 and 1.5). But I do know that I am still kind of freaking out about the possibility of putting my 4 year old in preschool this fall. I am not a helicopter mom when it comes to most things, but that’s being without him for a good 25 hours a week! How did you ever make it to 17?!

  • Well he sounds like a very sensible young man, so… good job M!!! It’s really important to know how to handle an accident, even a fender-bender. Some folks just freak the fuck out and cannot drive for awhile (or ever again). My 2 older kids are in their twenties and are too lazy to get their licenses despite my nagging (what the hell am I doing?). My youngest is old enough to start driving too, but shows no interest. I worry that they’ll wait too long and then kinda give up on it forever. Damn! I’ll have to take the bus everywhere when I’m an old doll.

    • He really does have a solid head on his shoulders…except when he doesn’t. Haha. He’s a little skittish about driving, but not enough to NOT do it..so that’s good. Good luck getting those kids behind a wheel!

  • that there is some amazing self control! I remember the times I was told “no” when I was young and asking to go somewhere….but I also remember the times I was told yes. And it was always pretty awesome.

    Glad your son and his friend are all right, though. Car accidents are mad scary, yo.

  • I can SO relate to this! Imagine this – my fairly immature 22-year-old daughter decided she wanted to do a summer school program in Italy. Since she was spending so much money (borrowed in student loans, of course), she decided she wanted to spend a week before and after seeing the rest of the country. So she went – by herself – to Europe, traveling around on the train with creepy men and getting lost in Venice and shit. Then there was this ONE incident…but you’ll have to wait to hear that, because you just inspired me to write a blog post!

  • I’m glad your son is OK (whiplash sucks!) and that you coped with it too (meds and booze can help, I know!)
    I always enforced the importance of seatbelts to my boys and I’m glad I did. My eldest was in a car with his friends and wouldn’t let the girl drive until everyone had their belts on. It was a rainy night, she hit a puddle, aquaplaned off the road, through a roadsign and flipped. They were all told that without the seatbelts they wouldn’t have walked away from it. It was 8years ago and I still feel sick thinking about it.

  • SO glad everyone’s OK!!! And I am right there with you, with my headset on, hand on the control stick, waiting to launch, every time my girls ask to do anything that I can’t be there for.

    I’m getting better, because I remind myself — when I was their age, I sure wasn’t checking in with my mom every five minutes, (or even every week–sorry mom!)… but still, it’s much harder from this side of the generation gap.

  • I have too many incidents with my children….the “funniest” one: At age 15 in Idaho a child can receive a “day” driver’s license for use only during the day. However, our daughter hadn’t obtained that yet, I think she may have still been in Driver’s Education. (just a side note we were good parents really — but I would never try this at home ever again). It was a rainy dark night and we (the parents) were in our PJs watching TV (and really didn’t want to go out in the rain) — So our daughter was allowed to drive our car two blocks (in a secure little neighborhood, so what could danger was there to this) to a girlfriend’s house. Long story short, on her return, she spun out, hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake, took out some lawn, knocked out a reflector and ended up on the front porch of a house that was planning on having an Open House the next day! No one was hurt (except the porch)….and to make our evening even better, a State Patrolman lived across the street from the wreckage. We laugh about it now…but at the time, my husband and I thought that we would be thrown in prison. After this happened several parents shared that they had let their unlicensed child drive…I doubt they would ever again, AND I would never encourage this. This story is told much better in person.

  • My precious 16yo baby girl is 3000 miles away. THREE THOUSAND. And even though I did the paperwork and paid for the ticket and my logical brain said “exchange! This will be so good for her! just think how great her German will be when she gets back!” the whole time I kept telling her she should stay at home with her mommy. She didn’t go for it. So far she is still alive but not only did she go to Berlin without me she went to a concert with other teenaged humans.
    A concert.
    In Berlin.
    3000 miles away from her mommy.
    It’s enough to kill me.

    • My stepdaughter went to Spain for a month when she was 19 (she lived with us from age 14 on) and I couldn’t sleep the whole time she was gone. I feel your pain.

      She also had an experience that she will treasure forever…it was 10 years ago and she still talks about it.

      Still..not easy.

  • When my daughter started driving, any time I saw an ambulance or heard sirens, I would call or text to make sure she was fine.
    She went to college this past fall. I no longer know exactly where she is or what she’s doing. It’s been a HARD adjustment to make.
    And I still feel the urge to call or text her anytime I hear sirens even though she is 120 miles away.

  • I think trusting them goes a long way. I let my son take the car to his friend’s house after work one weekend because there was really nothing going on. He promised to be careful and not to take the car out to the bar, etc. My car was returned with a grimy-ass steering wheel, a blown fuse which controls my cigarette lighter and my power mirrors and the drink-holders in the backseat down. It was mildly enraging, but it could have been way worse… :/

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