More like a shoddy paper airplane

I feel comfortable asserting that I am NOT a helicopter parent. I believe in kids building autonomy, making (and learning) from their own mistakes, and all of that sort of thing. Furthermore, in case you haven’t noticed, I am far too lazy to be a helicopter parent. It just seems like it’s an awful lot of work. I can barely remember to get dressed in the morning and throw some food at my children. I’m supposed to shadow their every step, too? HARD. I can’t be bothered.

On the other hand, I do luuuuurve MAH BABIES and try to take an active interest in their lives. I do things like join committees and volunteer at school and launch into impassioned soliloquies in front of the dryer about the Endless Tragedy Of Orange Socks (thank you, Georgia clay, for making my life infinitely more rust-colored) in an effort to better connect with my offspring. Um, okay, technically that socks thing might not fall into that category, but you see my point.

Anyway, now that I’ve gone and JUSTIFIED how I’m all about not over-interfering like the big neurotic that I am, allow me to paint the scene:

Over the summer, the children ping-pong back and forth between here and their dad’s house so often that I suddenly realized that Chickadee hadn’t really had any playdates with her friends. We have a conversation about it that went something like the following.

Me: Hey, do you want to get together with Nightingale or Hawk or Swan or anyone?
Her: I dunno.
Me: You don’t know?
Her: Whatever.
Me: Oooooo…kay…. Um. Well, you can have a friend over tomorrow if you like. How about Swan?
Her: Okay!

And then because I happen to be friends with Swan’s mom, I made the arrangements. (Shut up.) The girls had a fabulous time, and plans were discussed to meet next time at Swan’s house for a sleepover party for “all the girls.” Hooray!

Except, the invitation came, and the party date was during her next trip to her dad’s house. Boo. Chickadee looked at the invite, said “I can’t go, anyway,” and flounced off. I assured her that we’d find another time for them to get together. We ran into Swan and her mom at the ice cream place a few days later and Swan’s mom assured her we’d find another time to get together. Chickie seemed remarkably neutral about the entire thing.

I was perplexed.

Eventually I concluded that the upheaval of the summer brought with it enough times that she was unable to make plans or commit to an activity, that she was merely resolving not to want, as a survival mechanism. As much as that makes me want to curl up in the corner, a little bit, it’s a fairly reasonable response to an unreasonable situation, I guess.

Okay. So. All of that happened this summer, and I (stupidly) assumed that ONCE SCHOOL STARTED AGAIN (all hail school!) that things would return to normal, what with the REGULAR ROUTINE and the SEEING FRIENDS EVERY DAY and all of that. Yes. I’m ever the optimist. Or the rat who keeps pressing the level that gives an electric shock. Same thing.


So Chickadee’s been… ummm… a typical 10-year-old girl… which is to say that she is deliriously happy one minute and pissed off at the entire world the next. Nothing new there, right?

But last night at dinner we were eating and out of nowhere she says, “Swan had a party on Friday night. She didn’t invite me.”

Otto and I exchanged glances. We tried to dig for some more information, but she was back in that locked-down, I-don’t-care-anyway attitude I’ve come to dread. Was she sure it was a party? Yes, she was sure, she saw her giving out invitations and besides, Nightingale had it written on her calendar. Had they had a fight of some kind? Nope. Was she upset about it? No, it’s fine. Well, are they still friends? Of course, we’re friends, no big deal. Maybe it was an oversight, somehow? Well I see Swan every day, and she never invited me, so I don’t think so.

I stewed about it all evening. It just seemed… weird that she wouldn’t be invited.

In the end, I interfered, because I didn’t know how not to. I sent an email to the mom to tell her what was said and to ask if I’d missed a falling out or something. The whole thing made me incredibly anxious—I worried that I’d be seen as a coddler or, worse, that Chickadee would be viewed unfavorably—but I just couldn’t get my head around it. I was SURE it was a mistake, and whether she was admitting it or not, Chickadee was feeling bad.

There’s a happy ending, sort of; Chickadee was on the guest list and it’s not clear what happened, if anything, beyond maybe Swan thinking she’d already given her an invitation when she hadn’t. The other mom is a sweetheart and totally understood my position and was genuinely surprised and sorry about what had happened. (She says she wondered where we were!) So it looks like all will be resolved and everything will be fine.


She’s getting to an age where I wonder how long I can do this. Rather, how long I SHOULD do this. How old does my kid have to be before meddling in her business—no matter how noble my intentions—does her a disservice? I will tell her about this, later today, and she’ll almost certainly be completely relieved and happy to hear that she wasn’t excluded intentionally. But the day may come when I “report good news” of this sort and she is SIMPLY HORRIFIED that I butted in. Or—worse?—she’ll never be horrified, but one day I’ll realize that she’s an adult and I’m still micromanaging her playdates.

So, yeah. Not a helicopter. Still, a GPS I could attach to the nose of this thing would be really handy.


  1. Colleen

    IMHO you did great mom…I’m finding similar situations with Chance. Surprised Swan’s mom didn’t call… I think our kids are still young and need the parental assistance to work through the relationship process. Good job Mom.


  2. Tammy

    It’s a tough line to walk…where do you interfere and where do you let go?? Be sure to blog when you figure that out, ok? ;) I agree that you did the right thing in this case–at 10 a girl still needs her mom to be her champion.

  3. Leandra

    I dread the day when my kids are really not invited to something. It’s happened to all of us, but it sucks nonetheless, and I want to try to save my babies from that heartache.

  4. Lis

    And there will come a time when she tells you something that is bothering her and then says, “And don’t you DARE call her mom!” As my son did to me, and I realized that my time for being “involved” had expired!

  5. RuthWells

    I’m having car trouble this week and my mother is insisting that I should buy a new car. Not only that I should buy a new car, but that it should be one of a select few makes/models.

    I’m 41.

    Chickie will let you know when it’s time to step back, as I let my mother know when she has once again CROSSED THE LINE!

  6. Randi

    Oh, it’s so sad whenever something like that happens. I’ve been wondering the same thing – when to stop interfering, ect.

    Even bigger – when do you finally admit that Santa has a “benefactor”?!

  7. Jessica (from It's my life...)

    I think you did the right thing, though I would maybe have asked Chicky before calling, and in the future that might stave off some of the hysterical “you’re ruining my life” moments.

    As an aside, I didn’t get a ton of sleep last night, but I bet that doesn’t excuse the fact that I just thought “wow, what an odd coincidence that Chickadee’s friends all have bird names.” Ahem, embarrassed now. heh.

  8. Karen

    You know, I noticed now that I’m an adult, that my mom really didn’t do much to teach me skills on how to be a friend. I wish she would have interfered a lit here and there. I would have loved to know how to be good friend and how to deal with awkward situations like this one. My mom would have blown it off, drifted from her friend and nothing would have ever come of it. I think not only did you do a good thing for chickie by bringing her good news, you showed her you value a friendship as well and addressed a very uncomfortable situation with your friend.
    I’m now struggling to know how to teach my daughters to be supportive, good friends and to know when I should and should not interfere.

  9. Wendy

    I think you did the right thing. And it does not fall into the category of over meddling.

    I feel like I am dealing with this all too often. My daughter is 6 1/2 so I am comfortable still getting involved when necessary. But already, in most cases, she is pretty clear, she would rather I didn’t get involved. I generally respect her wishes except where I can read between the lines and know that while she would never ASK for my help, in the end she will be happy to have had it.

    What I find more troubling is how upset and anxious I get about these little mishaps. (Though I am pretty good at hiding it.) Intellectually you know they are just kids and it happens to everyone at one time or another. But when its your kid, it just breaks your heart. She’s much better at shrugging it off then I am – I think it is their defense mechanism. I think as Mom’s we may lack the ability to shrugged it off so easily. We feel responsible for them in every way and I’m not sure that feeling ever really ends. (Now there is a depressing thought!)

  10. Lucinda

    I think you did the right thing, especially given her summer. It takes kids time to recover from that kind of upheaval and she’s probably not at her best with the whole social thing right now. In fact, this might be a great teachable moment for the future when she is old enough to resolve her own issues. You are showing her how it’s done i.e. assume there is a misunderstanding and question if you have done something to offend said person. While my kids are younger than yours, I tend to agree with others who have said she will let you know when to back off. Much like they do when they learn to feed themselves, dress themselves, etc. Remember the 3 year old saying “I can do it by myself!”?

  11. Justin

    She’s ten, she’s in a really unenviable position with traveling back and forth over the summer, sounds like due diligence to me. She’s smart and funny, but it’s a hard age, she’s sensitive anyway and if you can keep her from starting the year in the hole it seems like no less than you’d do for any kid given the chance.

  12. MomCat

    Every time I’ve gotten involved in a situation like that, I regret it, but I don’t have your charm and turns of phrase. I blurt and then stammer and my social backwardsness comes out in full force. My daughter is better at ironing out her own problems. (Thank God!)

  13. StephLove

    Something similar happened to us. The birthday of one of my son’s best friends came and went with no invite. We’d gone as far as to schedule a family trip around the weekend we thought it was most likely to happen. Then we got an invite two months later. It was for another day we’d be out of town, but I was just so relieved my son hadn’t been dissed. (I’m not sure why the boy had his party two months late. We never asked. But he’s one of five kids. Maybe that’s answer enough.)

  14. StephLove

    BTW, I never asked the parents about it, but when I saw them I kept trying to think of ways to casually bring it up with them, something like “So, is S looking forward to his birthday?” I never had the nerve to try it.

  15. arduous

    Honestly, I think it makes a big difference that you are friends with Swan’s mom. I think you can get involved when it concerns a friend whose mom you yourself are friends with for a while still.

    I think you’ll be fine. Just don’t call any of Chickie’s boyfriends to find out why they broke up with her, and you’ll be fine. ;)

  16. Visionsister

    My step-daughter is now 12 and about to start middle school. I go back and forth between ‘she’s a good kid, she’ll be fine’ and ‘I remember middle school, she’s too young for that’ feelings. I hope you have a little more time.

  17. jennielynn

    You’re in tricky territory there. I think you just listen to your gut. I’m trying not to interfere with friendships as Drama Queen approaches 14, but dang, it’s so hard.

  18. Erin

    I’m going to have to go out on a limb and say that you’re perilously close to the point where you need to back off about this kind of thing. Well, except in helping Chickadee navigate.

    Something VERY similar happened with my son when he was ten. There was a party. I realized I’d taken a message from the boy who had the party a few weeks earlier and thought maybe I’d screwed up by not relaying said message. My child was upset. I was upset. I called the family and left the most tactful message I could saying I hoped I didn’t screw up by not giving the boy the message. It took days to get an e-mail back from the dad (Why not the mom?) telling me nope, it wasn’t my fault. It was just a get-together with some of the boys from soccer and my son wasn’t included because he’s not on the soccer team (he’s on the football team), the friendship was in tact, etc. The thing is my boy was pretty sure non-soccer kids were included and the friendship was never the same again on either side.

    It probably helped that you were fairly close to the other mother. I wasn’t that close to this family. We were friendly. We’re still friendly I guess. It was my lesson. Now I hold myself back as much as I possibly can (which, so far, has been all the way back) and it really seems to work out for the kids. Probably for the better.

    BTW, I am absolutely not a helicopter parent either. My philosophy on the subject sounds pretty much identical to yours.

  19. Jenny

    You know, it’s funny, but this reminded me of me. It’s clear that Chickadee is going through a good bit of upheaval, but I think I likely put my mom through much the same thing without the added struggle of the ping-pong summer. I was always a fairly private kid who was just as happy to read a book or hang out with myself as to run around with friends (which is not to say I didn’t have friends — I had plenty, but I was never really aggressively social — still not). So I can definitely recall times when something like that would happen and I genuinely didn’t care, OR I cared a little bit but figured it was a mistake and anyway, that meant I could finish my new Nancy Drew, so who cares? Thinking back on it, my very vagueness and apparent disinterest must have been seriously perplexing, because I can remember those conversations. “Did something happen?” “(Shrug.)”

    So anyway, all of that is to say… I guess I should go apologize to my mom and thank her for taking an interest even when I didn’t seem to care.

  20. Burgh Baby

    I respectfully request that you write down the exact date and time at which Chickadee protests. That way I can be sure to quit not really helicoptering a full 10 minutes before my kid reaches that age. Thanks!

  21. beth s

    Right thing, I think. We’re already to the snubbing friends point and Doug is only 6. I feel soo bad for him but I’ve tried the talking to mom thing and it just didn’t work. Who knows if they are mad at Doug, me, or just the world? His ex-best friend now no longer invites him to anything, or even wants to play with him. They used to be inseperable (in preschool) but were in different K class at the same school last year and this year are on different schedules for 1st grade. They see each other during recess but rarely even talk. The other little boy does say hi and hug me when I’m in the hallways but our random spontaneous playdates are long gone. His mom called with a lame excuse to not even come to his birthday party. Oh well, we’ll make new friends eventually.

  22. Megan

    You can’t possibly be a helicopter parents because, in my experience, such people have no idea what they are – even as the hair of the crowd is blown backward by the prop wash from their hovering. Denial, my friend, is the hallmark of the true helicopter parent. I’d put it more at ultra-light – sort of there if necessary to swoop in but making as little noise and fuss as possible.

    Hmmm…. can you tell I was married to an aviation freak? It rubbed off a little. Now I’m wondering if I’m more of a full-on gun ship!

  23. Wendy 2

    I have a 12 year old daughter, and I STILL have trouble with this issue. She is constantly fighting with her cohorts that live out by us. I can’t even call them her friends because at times they treat her so badly, I don’t consider them friends. It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but we live in a development outside of town, and the worst behaved little girl lives next door, so when they are over there, my daughter is feeling left out. Plus two of the girls are the daughters of one of my best friends. It often causes anxiety in me. At times I seem to be having more trouble with it than she is. It is definitely a constant struggle in my life to let her handle it and not call up the girls’ mothers. I just wish I knew where the line was to get involved or not get involved.

  24. The Other Leanne

    I think there is a huge difference between “helicoptering” and being a voice for your 10 year old child when she can’t find the words–acting not out of a need to control, but to get information and promote understanding. I’ve become a believer in direct communication when something just doesn’t make sense, vs assuming or harboring or festering. Lucinda said it well, this is a teachable moment. You did the right thing, you always do.

  25. Katie in MA

    Wow. I am not looking forward to this part of parenting. But I think that in those situations where you’re also friends with the mom, you can get away with a little more gentle interference than you could with her other friends. Things can just casually slip into conversation. But I’d say you have until middle school, unless Chickie asks for less involvement before then.

    Does Chickie have a friend going through a similar situation? Maybe it would help her to talk to someone who’s gone through this “I’ve been gone for an entire summer – now what?” situation. You could start with “What a crazy summer, eh? How does Roadrunner feel about having to do this?” Remind me of that one in a few years when I have to help my girlies deal with it!

    Chin up, Mir – I think you’re doing a *fabulous* job not hovering!

  26. sassymonkey

    Oh how I feel for Chickadee. My parents split when I was pretty young and I used to do every other weekend with my father. I was a little bit older than she was when kids started using that as an excuse to not invite me to things. So, since I *could* I decided to stop visiting my father when I was about 12. It accomplished nothing but at felt at least people weren’t lying to me anymore. It’s a really tough position to be in and yeah, I pretended I didn’t care too. The absolute worst was when people planned a surprise party for a friend in 8th grade and didn’t invite me. She felt horrible about it. But we’re still best friends today and don’t talk to any of those other people any more. Go figure.

  27. Aimee

    I have a feeling that you’ll know the right time to stop. The first time I really remember my mom not stepping in with an opinion was when I was 11. I met this girl Sandy, we hung out a lot. My mom didn’t like her, but never said a word. Then, Sandy tried to steal my jacket at school. I told my mom about it, and only THEN when I’d made up my own mind did she tell me that she didn’t like her. In that situation, I think she did the right thing. I probably wouldn’t have believed her if she’d tried to warn me.

  28. Kimmer

    Great story! I laughed I cried. 10 is still elementary school, right? You’re golden until middle school, then all hell breaks loose! Savor your victory.

  29. Laura

    I did the opposite. I got my 5 yr old invited to a party he wasn’t invited to and didn’t care about. I SWEAR I was just making conversation. One of the kids is my sons preschool class had the BEST parties. His parents spend a fortune! His mom is the nicest lady. My son wasn’t really a buddy. We switched schooled. I ran into her at another kid’s birthday. I remembered that her son’s birthday was coming up. I asked her, “You guys throw the best parties. What are you doing this year for his birthday?” She got all flustered and invited us. I said no you don’t have to. I just wanted you to know that you throw great parties! She insisted we come. Of course my son wanted to go. We went. I was embarrassed but we went.

    I always ask my son if he wants me to talk to the kid/parent/teacher/counseler. If he says no, I don’t. If he says yes, I do. It is up to him.

  30. jmcupcakes

    We have a girl on our block who is always willing to play with my kids if there is nothing better to do, but NEVER calls for them or calls them on the phone and INITIATES play.
    I feel like my kids are butt-sucks and beggars for constantly looking for and being available to this kid, yet they have absolutely no problem with it and it is driving me CRAZY!, so I complained about it to a friend of mine. Her son, 14, recently came out as gay, and had JUST had the same situation happen to him – Fourth of July, him home with nothing to do, all his friends out and about, texting him but not inviting him to join them. Two days later, he invites them all for a sleepover. The mother, my friend, says “WHY would you host a party for three girls who just completely DISSED you two days ago??”
    She told me his response, and I try to remember it every time I am tempted to interfere.
    He said “All friendships are different, Ma – at least they come over when I invite them – I have other friends who invite ME places and I never invite THEM” he GENUINELY was COMPLETELY OK with the situation.
    Emme and Gigi DON’T CARE if their friend invites them or calls them – they are simply GRATEFUL for the time they DO get to play with them – it is VERY HARD to accept theat Chicks feelings and your feelings don’t match, and that LO AND BEHOLD, her feelings might be OK, even healthier and more well adjusted than yours!! But you have to…maybe she doesn’t even really CARE for the girl that much but remains friendly with her b/c of YOUR friendship with the mother!

  31. Darcie

    This hit such a cord with me. I have been stuggling with this myself. I have a 10 year old boy and there have been social issues at school that have bordered on bullying. I have tried to just help him learn how to handle it, but after multiple incidents I had to step in and talk to the teacher. When that didn’t work out well, I had to talk to the parents. Now my son tries really hard not to tell me ANYTHING that is going on because he doesn’t want my interference. :( If he tells me something he will say “And DON’T call anyone about it!”

    I guess my helicopter has been grounded.

  32. Hip Mom's Guide

    First of all, I think I hear (okay, read) a bit of “this is my fault because I’m divorced and my poor kid gets shuffled around” in there. Which, for the record, I think is crap. Obviously I don’t know you from Eve, but since I assume you write from the heart, I can’t imagine that you haven’t handled all of this transitioning with grace. Yes, you love the humor but anyone who’s read your blog for more than a few months knows that your kids are getting top notch parenting. Second, my marriage is 16 years old and solid, but my 11-year old STILL shuts down or tells me “you’re ruining my life,” on occasion. So give yourself a little break. Sure, some of her feelings are a result of bumping back and forth, but bumping takes a lot of forms–and middle school is prime bumping territory. I think we’re just in for a few years of “I’m growing up and I’m not sure how this all shakes out.” Thank goodness they’re not ALL built this way! And, taking the long view, I’m sure there are some really good character traits they’re developing…things that will come in handy later, like perseverance and determination…right?? God I hope so.

  33. MDB

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and enjoying it immensely (and also passing it on to friends).

    Aside from the fact that your writing is a pleasure to read, we seem to have so many family similarities that it’s eerie. Children of same ages and genders (and personalities—sometimes I’m reading about your kids and shaking my head that Chick sounds just like my daughter, which of course leaves Son to be the good sport and put up w/the shenanigans). Just a lot of things.

    Your post about making the decision to come back from a family overnight due to Chickadee’s hotel behavior made me cry—both for the obvious reasons, and also because we experienced exactly (down to the trigger of the hysterics/awfulness in the first place—turf wars in the hotel) the same thing about a month earlier. Except that we were in Monteal, and taking off for home was not feasible. Just so much tension and resentment and drama.

    Then, today’s post. I could have written this. Chickadee and my girl—same kid. Same nonchalant (or is it?) attitude, same steel trap when you try to learn more. I’d totally do what you did on this—-and I agonize over it every time, always trying to find the balance between micromanaging and being way too hands off and not noticing her struggles.

    Thanks for posting some very universal (at least in my family!) experiences. I really identify so often with your experiences.

  34. toni mcgee causey

    My experience with my kids led me to a profound realization… unfortunately, I think they were in their 20s before I clued in… which is, if they’re referring to something obliquely like what Chickadee did, they’re both (a) wishing they knew what to do about it and (b) sort of hoping that their parents will pay attention and, if nothing else, listen to the heartbreak and understand. AT THE SAME TIME that the parent does absolutely NOTHING EXCEPT the SECRET thing they DON’T KNOW IF THEY WANT IT, unless it turns out GREAT, and then they did and if it DOESN’T, well, then, missy, your ass is grass and they get to do the whole WOE, MY PARENTS ARE STUPID thing.

    Sadly, this stage will last until they’re about 25. [checking calendar to see…] oh, wait, make that 26.

    There’s just no way to know, until they say, “I’ve got it, mom.” Which, had I realized, I would have sat them down and explained to them, early on, that we need to have a code. There should be a “I want to just complain and be heard” code and a “I think I might be okay if you helped” code and a “FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT” code. That’s when things are usually on fire, though, so those are pretty obvious. ;)

  35. All Adither

    Oh Gawd, the thought of those days coming makes me all nauseated and stuff. Sounds like you handled it well. I’m sure there are a million moms who would’ve interfered without weighing the situation like you wisely did (and do). Or, I suppose you and Swan’s mom could’ve had it out on Jerry Springer.

  36. Holly

    Umm, yeah – try this with a 7th grader (now an 8th grader) in a school where there are ONLY 3 GIRLS IN HER ENTIRE GRADE – COUNTING HER!

    Last year friend “A” decided to hang out with the 8th grade girls instead of Mikaela & friend “B”. Friend “B” decided to be all snotty about it, and tried to drag Mikaela into it – the mean girl sort of crap. I explained to Mikaela to remove herself from this cat fight before it got ugly. I told her to explain to friend “B” she wanted to remain friends with BOTH “A” & “B”. I told her to explain the same thing to friend “A”, and that she didn’t want to leave friend “B” without any friends, but she would be waiting for friend “A” when they all moved into 8th grade and the old 8th graders were gone.

    All seems fine – except since then there has not been a single sleep-over at one of the 3 houses that has included all 3 girls. It’s sad, because they used to be inseperable.

    I’m looking forward to her going to ‘the big school’ next year for 9th grade, and making lots of new friends so I don’t have to worry about the break down of friendships when there are only two to choose from in her school.

  37. Lisa- Domestic Accident

    This post and all the responses make me want to cry a little bit. I know I’m going to stink at handling all this drama.

  38. mike golch

    My parents were not helicopter parents as well and guess what we made it out alive.Hugs and God’s Blessing to you and your family.Mike G. said that.

  39. Flea

    Oh I hate those times. I’ve not interfered, rather I’ve cried with my kids (they do get upset), or I’ve encouraged them to ask their friends what happened. Most of the time they’ve been forward enough to walk back into the situation and ask. Sometimes they haven’t liked the answer (neither have I), but they’ve learned to – damn, Mir, I don’t know what they’ve learned. Just to stand on their own two feet and keep an open line of communication for themselves. Or that mom’s a wuss. Who knows?

  40. design mom

    Oh my goodness. I remember rust colored socks! I grew up in the red sand region of Utah and the rust color was just a fact of life. Too funny!

  41. Kailani

    I think you will realize that it is time to butt out right after the first time you realize you shouldn’t have butt in…Does that make sense? You’ll just know, and then you’ll stop. And it will be hard!

    What you did here was model for Chickie that you can confront a situation/friend without being confrontational. By example, your helping to mold her social skills.

    She (and Monkey) are soo lucky to have you as their mom. You are supportive with a dash of tough love and pretty damn funny, too!

    Great job, Mir!

  42. Mom on the Run

    I usually wholeheartedly agree with you, but in this instance I have to say that I don’t. If I hear of a party/activity that my child was not invited to, I have a policy of not calling to check. I have one mom of my child’s friend who will call me and flat out ask when my daughter’s birthday party is. Over the years I have had to get firm with her and tell her, “my daughter is 12 and she is allowed to invite who she wants to.” This same person told my daughter that she had purchased a nice gift for her…my daughter had not even decided on who to invite, let alone sent out invitations. I felt this mom was very intrusive. I believe that kids need to know that they cannot be invited to all parties…it is a tough life lesson.

    I tell my children that we cannot invite the whole class or even 10 people to our parties. I also let my children know that it is not appropriate ot brag or boast about their birthday party in school or among friends who have not been invited.

  43. The Other Other Dawn

    47. Around age 47. Yep. That oughta do it.

    My mother would never stick up for me, even when I was young enough to justify it. She loved me to pieces but she was just a very non-confrontational person. And guess who never learned how to confront without being confrontational?

    If I remember correctly, about grade 6 or 7 was when my two no longer wanted my involvement.

  44. eiela

    From what you’ve written about Chickadee, it sounds like she’d probably let you know LOUD & CLEAR if she thought you were helicoptering. Just saying. I think you did the right thing, though.
    Anyway, I remember shrug-“conversations” with my mother like that when friends left me out. (more in middle school than at the age Chickadee is now. Dang, middle school sucked). My shrugs usually meant, “If they’re not going to invite me to things, I don’t want to hang out with them anyway, the turds. Late elem./Middle school can be hard on girls–they get soooo catty (as a former middle school teacher).

  45. anymommy

    You have this way of making my heart beat hard at the thought of the future and all the issues to come and STILL making me smile.

  46. mama speak

    Wow, lots of great advice here, I’ll be bookmarking these comments.

    My oldest is 5 & we’ve already been dealing w/these type of situations; 1 helicopter parent + 1 “mean girl” (aleady at age 5!) = lots of tears for rest of group. My hope was that the whole group of girls would be seperated at kindergarten this year. Not so lucky; got broken into group of 3 and 2; we’re in group of 2 w/heli parent (better than w/mean girl IMO).

    I think you were on safe ground because you already had a relationship w/Swan’s mom; I think you’ll know when to stay out of it, you seem pretty smart that way. However, please consider the blog fodder when making these decisions. ;)

  47. Heidi

    I am a helicopter parent. I would keep doing it until she says it is a problem or she is starting to date. Which ever one comes first. It does help that you are friends with the mom, so it could have been explained by being brought up in conversation.

  48. Maris

    I remember my teenaged days vividly and girls can be BRUTAL and mean when they want to be. I think you did the absolutely right thing by standing up for her. You’re friends with the mom so it was perfectly natural to email her and you were able to resolve the situation with a maturity level that 10 year olds just don’t have.

    “Mean girls” are real, and yes, and I think that eventually Chickadee will start handling these things on her own, when she’s ready.

  49. Sheila

    I love email for that sort of thing. You can appear all casual-like, as cool as a cucumber- in writing, when in person the conversation could go quite differently.

    I think your instincts were spot on in this case, and I would probably say the same thing if the ending hadn’t turned out so well. For Chickadee to bring it up from out of nowhere must have meant it was really getting to her. As for advice on when to stop, I got nuthin’. I’m learning how to parent my ten year old from YOU.

  50. Scottsdale Girl

    13. That’s the magic number.

  51. becky

    I think you’ll know when it’s the right time. I think it was right around 12 or so where instead of doing it myself, I would just encourage her on what she should do (like just casually asking the friend what happened). And if she didn’t do it, well, it was her choice. But if it was something I really felt strongly about (like when someone was harassing her via IM), I stepped in anyway.

  52. Karen

    Long time reader, first time poster here.

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