I'm a Helicopter Parent. Let me go find that chullu bhar paani to doob mar....
Seriously though, I think I am being practical in this day and age when children disappear from homes and building premises and are found dead 30 kms away (my heart breaks for the parents of 3year old Gursharan), or are taken hostage by kidnappers out to make a quick buck who often dont hesitate a moment before killing their hostage.
I am also paranoid. I pick up and drop my child to school because I see the way the school bus children bully the younger ones in the bus. My son would be jailbait for them. And I see the way the children who go by van run amok on the traffic laden street outside, and often see the average of one missed accident per day, all because them van children run berserk. I accompany my son down to the park. I walk while he plays. I keep an eagle eye out for him getting into scraps and dont physically hover around, but am there. Silent. Lurking. Should wear black overcoat and dark shades, and pack my weapon unobstrusively in a holster. You know. I could do with martial arts training too, would come in handy when them kids get into tear each other's hair out fights.
I insist the brat is never left at home alone. I have friends who leave their six and three year olds alone at home and lock up all balconies and risky areas. They get their grocery shopping and other chores done quicker that way. I am lucky in that I have someone I can leave him behind with. If no one is around to watch him, I would rather drag him along with me than leave him behind. I know the mischief he can get upto when I am physically present to keep yelling as background noise in a vain attempt to deter him. I dread thinking what he would do in my absence.
I still maintain this is a different age we are growing up in. The challenges are different. Children are not as safe today as they were earlier. Sexual assaults on children are at an all time high. The newspapers are full of stories of children who went missing while they were playing, only to be found abused and dead in some remote area few days later. It is heart breaking. It is also very scary when you have a child like the brat who will happily trot off with a random stranger, with zero stranger anxiety.
And till they are able to take care of themselves in a public situation (aka become adults with appropriate self defence and martial arts training) we as parents need to be more vigilant about their safety. And yes, I really dont mind being called a Helicopter Parent. I dont mind being called paranoid. I am. The only issue I am paranoid about is my child's safety. I donot have him attending a slew of classes to gain different skills, he barely attends one dance class which is conducted in the lobby of my building itself. I donot hound him regarding his studies, in fact, he gets away with complete slacking off most of the times. I am not obsessive about his diet. My motto is, if he is hungry, he will eat. His food is placed in front of him, and if he doesnt finish it in the stipulated time, it is removed. And he stays till the next meal time, by when hopefully he builds up an appetite.
I am not hovering on my child's heels, he does his own thing. But I'm around. Watching. Ensuring he stays safe, to the best of my ability. I call it being sensible. I call it being a responsible parent.