Saturday, October 22, 2011

Helicopter parents vs. Chip dip parents

I've complained about this topic before, and my husband continues to tell me to keep my nose out of other people's business, but I just can't leave it alone.

We went to a wonderful birthday party today (um, sorry for arriving late, I didn't take into account that the route to your house takes us directly through downtown Salem, MA right in the middle of Halloween season!).  It was clear my friend had put a LOT of effort into her son's birthday party.  The house was decorated, there were themed games and themed snacks and drinks and cupcakes and treats.  She literally thought of everything, down to the skull straws and the sensory bucket for the children to dig through and hunt for spiders and bugs.  The kids were all outside playing a pin-the-bones-on-the-skeleton game when we arrived, and the fun never stopped, with a pinata and another pumpkin bean bag game. 

LW, if you did all that prep work with your husband out to sea AND made all those chocolates yourself, I'm going to have to hire you to put together Chester's birthday party in February!

Anyway, the point is, she put a lot of work into this party, and there were parents who basically sat in the kitchen and munched on her wonderful snacks and completely ignored their children's behavior.  I am not talking about a momentary child escape (because Chester ran out the door to play with the pumpkins plenty of times, and I swear I got an extra mile on my workout chart for chasing him!) and I'm not talking about children who got into the treats early (because Pete definitely managed to stick his finger in a cupcake while I was chasing Chester out the door).  Not shockingly, the most attentive parents were other Coast Guard moms, who not only watched their own children to keep them in line, but also helped with the other children.   

I am talking about the children who basically climbed into T's lap while he was opening his presents.  It was total chaos, and at one point, even T said "you're too close, you're in my space!".  LW was unbelievably cool-headed and asked everyone to make a circle and sit back, but it was too late.  Kids were opening presents and playing with T's new toys.  I was so sad for him!  And while the veggie dip and the homemade butterfinger candies were unbelievably tasty, I managed to drag my pregnant butt away from the food, out of the kitchen and into the living room to keep my kids from bum-rushing the birthday boy.   Now, I was barely able to hold a conversation with my friends because I was busy chasing my toddler, but the PARTY IS NOT ABOUT ME hanging out with my friends, IT'S ABOUT T celebrating his birthday and having a good time and I think this is where we have the huge schism between parenting styles.  The chip dip parents were there to have their own good time, while the helicopter parents were there to ensure our children weren't being hooligans ruining anyone else's good time.

Though I am always looking forward to a day or evening with my girlfriends, I cannot imagine sitting in the kitchen to chat with them while my child is at a birthday party.  Now, if my children were perfect little angels, they would have sat in that circle all by themselves and I could have enjoyed my carrots and dip in the kitchen.  But left to their own devices, my children do things like eating the icing off their cupcakes and then wander the room to steal other children's cupcakes and lick the frosting off their cupcakes too.  In fact, that happens even when I'm sitting next to one child.  It's like they discuss the game plan before the party- "you get Mom to help you with your cupcake and I'll make a run for it, grab three more cupcakes and we'll meet back by the pumpkin to split the loot".

So, to my CG moms who kept watch of their children, and helped me with mine, thank you for being helicopter parents, your children were very pleasant.  And to the chip-dip parents, I hope you enjoyed your party.  My little boy went home asking why all those kids were getting presents and he couldn't have one.  I  had to explain that they were playing with T's birthday presents before he even had a chance to play with them and that wasn't nice, but that he had been a very good boy at the party and I was very proud of him. 


  1. Do you think any chip dip parents will respond to this post? I am thinking of which one I am... maybe I'm a half chip dip parent? I watch my child, but I do enjoy the dip and drinks when I go to parties and catch up with my friends.

  2. I don't know any of them, so probably not, but for the record, your son has never bum-rushed the birthday child at any party we've attended together and if he did, I know you would put down the chip!

  3. I'm probably half chip-dip, half helicopter; we just wrapped up birthday season around here (all G's friends have birthday's between July 1 and Nov. 1, so it's almost a party a weekend during those months) and I did indulge in a good bit of chatting with the other moms... but I also NEVER let my child play with birthday toys, get into food by herself or open presents that aren't hers. I would also never expect someone else to have to discipline her because I wasn't paying attention; that doesn't happen on my watch! I share your frustrations that other parents can't control their children's behavior. There's middle ground out there, I assure you, and some folks just haven't found it (and probably never will).

  4. Oh guys, I hope you don't think I mean you should never talk to the other moms at a party. Just that if your child is running wild while you're snacking on chip dip, you might need to put down the chip for a few minutes to do something about it.

    Rushing the birthday child seems to happen at 50% of the birthday parties I've been to in the last year and it just makes me sad that the parents didn't even care to reign in their kids.

    My children are extraordinarily rowdy, so I'm stuck for now chasing them around, but someday I hope they will automatically sit in the circle without my help and then (and only then) will I get to sit in the kitchen and have some chips and dip!