It's a lovely day, so the park is busy. There are lots of kids here playing, laughing, running. Their parents sit on the benches around the edge of the playground and look on from afar, but not me. I stand near the slide as my son climbs up to take his turn, I am watching his every move.
To the outside eye, I'm that mum. You know the one. The 'helicopter mum' who is so worried about the safety of her sacred and beloved offspring that she must stand as close as possible to save the day should any dangers pop up. But the thing is, that's not me. That's not me at all. I'm happy for my children to challenge themselves and take risks, I'm not worried that my child is going to get hurt. Oh no. I am much more concerned about your child.
You see, my son has a tendency to be inexplicably mean to other kids. For no reason. It's extremely embarrassing when your child refuses to play nicely with others, be they your friend's children or just other kids who happen to be playing at the park. My daughter is the complete opposite, I can let her play and trust that she will be kind, without having to watch her like a hawk.
My son though, is just different. That's why you'll see me there, hovering, watching, waiting to butt in and stop any rude or rough behaviour when it pops up. I'd rather it didn't have to be this way, but in the handful of times I have tried to let him run relatively free and I've chatted with other mums, he has pushed and shoved other kids. He has taken their drink bottles or other possessions and thrown them away, he has loudly stated that other kids have "stupid faces". The worst was when he purposely pushed a barely walking baby down quite a high drop from the platform at the top of the slide. This caused a lot of tears and our immediate exit from the park, after many, many, many heartfelt apologies from me, along with some begrudging ones from my son.
That was it for me. I just didn't understand why he acted this way. I'm still not sure, to be honest. We avoided the park for a few weeks after that incident because I couldn't bear the thought of something like that happening again, not for my sake, but for that of the other children and their parents.
Perhaps I worry too much, but I would hate for my kids to be terrorised at the park by a four-year-old menace and have that child's parent/s remain unfazed or unknowing that this behaviour was going on. I believe it is my job as a mother to teach my own son the right way to behave. If that means standing a little closer to him while he plays at the park, so be it. I hope that with some careful guidance, one day I will be able to take a step back and trust that he will play nicely with all the other kids.
For now though, as much as I would love to, I can't just sit back and drink my coffee obliviously while my kid is the menace at the local park. I wish it wasn't like this. I'd love nothing more than to enjoy a warm beverage with the other mums and be a little more relaxed on outings with my kids. But I have learned it is best for everyone if I keep this helicopter hovering for now.