I had the fortune to interview the mother of a student who just graduated from Commonplace High School. As many parents wave goodbye to their graduates at this time of the year, this mother (who chose to remain anonymous), has elected to remain an integral, essential part of her son’s future. Here is our conversation:
Jon the Storyteller: Good afternoon, ma’am. Thanks for meeting with me. So today we’re here to talk about your son Jarrod, correct?
Helicopter Mom: It’s my pleasure. And yes, I love talking about my baby. He’s a big boy, now that he’s leaving high school.
JTS: A “big boy”. Okay, we can use that.
JTS: So, the reason you’re here is for just that. When many parents at this point are sending their children off on their own to make their mark on life, I understand that you’ve chosen to remain quite involved in your son’s life, is that correct?
HM: Absolutely! “Once a mom, always a mom,” as they say.
JTS: Sure, I guess they might. But most parents consider that to mean that now you let your child grow as an adult by making some mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Make their own choices and get into a jam every once in a while. You don’t seem to see things that way.
HM: Heavens no! What kind of a mom would I be if I let my child suffer mistakes he doesn’t have to. I mean, aren’t I doing him a disservice if I knowingly let him do the wrong thing or walk into a bees nest?
JTS: I can’t say. This isn’t my interview. Please, go on, though.
HM: If I know one choice is better than another, I’m obligated as a parent to guide my child that way. For instance: if I know a job is dangerous or might be above my son’s scope, how could I let my Jarrod step in harm’s way?
JTS: So if that happened you would suggest he look into another profession?
HM: That or I would tell the people at his job to put him in a less critical area. Like for police work, I’d tell them he’d be better served working at a desk job or as the meter guy.
JTS: I’ve heard meter guys get shot, too.
HM: Good heavens. Well, thank you for that. I’ll have to cross that interview off for next week.
(Cell phone rings)
HM: Could you excuse me for just a second?
JTS: No problem.
HM (Overheard whispering): Honey, Mom’s in a meeting. I’ll call you back and we’ll get together when I’m done. Okay. Okay baby. Yes, Mommy loves you, too. Kiss, kiss.
HM: Sorry about that.
JTS: It’s quite alright. So, you have a little one at home, too, huh?
HM: Little one? No, I just have Jarrod.
JTS: So, if I can ask: who were you just talking to?
HM: Jarrod. He’s got a summer job interview today, and wants Mom’s help picking out the right shirt and tie.
JTS: I assume that interview isn’t for a demolition or construction position.
JTS: Does Jarrod plan to go to college and open his options up.
HM: I haven’t found a school yet that fits my requirements, but he’s thinking about it.
JTS: I’m sorry. Did you say “your” requirements?
HM: Of course. First, the school has to be close enough that I can easily drop Jarrod off in the morning.
JTS: Of course.
HM: Uh huh. I’m still waiting for calls back from three schools. I need to know what Jarrod’s chances are so we can start making plans.
JTS: Have you given thought to letting Jarrod choose his own school?
HM: Are you daft? Do you know what goes on in a lot of those places? Did you know that at some of the schools they let guys and girls live in the same buildings? Good heavens man, what if Jarrod chose one of those places?
JTS: Heavens forbid.
HM: I mean what if I had to intervene in a roommate dispute at a college 3,000 miles away? How would I do that?
JTS: It certainly would make it harder.
HM: Exactly. And it would be nearly impossible to review the grading system of a professor from a college in another state, you know what I mean?
HM: He’s young and it’s up to me to make sure he can get into every class he wants. If he doesn’t get into them, how would he handle that? He needs me to make sure he gets what he wants.
JTS: But at some point, you’ll cut the strings and let him learn for himself, I would imagine.
HM: I suppose that’s a possibility at some point.
JTS: I suppose it would be.
HM: But in the meantime someone has to make sure that his scholarship needs are met and that he gets paid what he’s worth. That’s why I’ll be at his job interview with him today.
JTS: You mean you’ll be waiting for him to get through it.
HM: Yeah, as if. No, I’ll be asking questions of the hiring manager. Many interviewers — present company excluded of course — can be sneaky with their line of questioning. I don’t want Jarrod to fall victim to that. I have a list of questions for the interviewer to answer as well.
JTS: Shouldn’t you let him do that?
HM: Do what?
JTS: Shouldn’t you let him ask any questions?
HM: (Giggles) Yeah. Um, no, I don’t think so.
JTS: Well, I know you need to get going but before you leave; can you elaborate on why you shouldn’t let him? I mean, isn’t he an adult applying for an adult job position?
HM: I guess that’s one way to look at it. Mine is: what does it hurt if I tweak his resume here or ask a question there?
JTS: I suppose. But to be quite honest…
(Cell phone buzzes)
JTS: Text from Jarrod?
HM: (Sighs) Oh, yes. He’s getting nervous I won’t be there in time. That boy has so little confidence in himself. I swear, sometimes I don’t think he could get his dinner if I wasn’t around.
JTS: Could he?
HM: (Standing to leave) I guess I’m not sure. It’s had saying, not knowing.
JTS: Thanks for your time.