A couple of years ago, Boston’s best site for news, the Universal Hub, picked up one of the Parent Imperfect’s posts about the nation’s oldest public school. I love the comments that come when that happens as the Hub definitely attracts a different crowd than the PI faithful.
I won’t be able to find the comment now, but one ardent fan said something like, “Nice helicopter parenting. Why don’t you get a life and let your kids have theirs?” I can now say that I honestly didn’t know what “helicopter”parenting referred to when I saw that comment. That comment, rude as it was, led me to read a bit about the problem of parents insisting on living their kids’ lives for them. I had never though about myself that way.
Fast forward to yesterday morning. Since Vince started at the nation’s oldest, we’ve been carpooling with our neighbors to get the kids to Forest Hills, where they take the charter bus to school. Now that Connie also goes there, the morning has become that much easier. Regardless of how cold or rainy it is, our neighbor drops them at the bus, but I’m an easier mark. I occasionally drive them all the way into school, despite the traffic problems that accompany that decision. I’ve not seen evidence that the kids particularly appreciate it. I probably do it because it makes me feel better.
Yesterday was a cold morning, but not too cold. I drove all the way in because Ms. Connie had been up very late finishing a big project, so I thought a ride in to school might make Monday’s beginning a little easier.
Just about 45 minutes after leaving the house, I was in the home stretch, returning on South St. near the famous stone arch that is the scene of Boston’s worst train disaster. I was listening to the news and thinking about what I had to do before going to work, when a small silver pick up came careening around the corner in the opposite direction. I moved slightly to the right as a reflex, but it wasn’t enough.
The salt on the road probably allowed the driver to maintain control of the truck, even though s/he was going too fast. The salt could not, however, keep the load on the truck. In the blink of an eye, ten-foot lengths of 2-inch cast iron pipe were airborne out of the bed of the truck. Before I could even wet my drawers, two of the pipes smashed into the car (Liz’s car, that is).
I stopped in the street, in shock for a second, but not in too much shock to beep my horn as the truck slowed for a moment, and then sped away. Too late, I realized that I needed to get the license plate. I tried to do a U-turn to follow the truck, but there were three cars coming along in the other direction (it was rush hour, after all). By the time I got turned around, s/he was long gone (I know there is a 90-95% chance it was a he).
A police officer did show up at my house about an hour later. When he saw the damage, he said, “Damn, I’ve never seen anything like that” (the auto body shop said the same thing to Liz). “You know, you’re blessed…that one that hit the front could have killed you.” I hadn’t really thought of that.
When I suggested that the driver might try to come back to pick up his pipe, the very nice cop said, “Maybe he’s at Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m going to go over and check.”
So, the car is being fixed. I went back to the scene about 20 minutes after the cop left and, sure enough, the driver had come back and picked up the pipe. Maybe s/he went for coffee afterwords and fell into the clever trap.
Everyone I tell is very sympathetic. Here’s one response: “Glad you still have all your vitals. When things like this happen I take it as a lesson about something. Figuring out what that is (pay more attention!) is the trick.”
Don’t give up your day job for counseling! I could have been more attentive, but I couldn’t have avoided the pipes. I don’t think the lesson is about attention. But could it be an omen about the helicopter? My last memory of the pipes is that they were spinning like propellers as they came off the truck.