The opposite of a helicopter parent

First of all, if you’d like to see some amazing topiary art, hop over to my photography blog. I’m displaying the great topiary I recently spotted at the San Diego Botanic Garden for the WordPress weekly photo challenge’s unique theme. I bet you’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Now, if you think being a helicopter parent is a bad thing, wait till you see what the opposite parent looks like…

My eldest is in first grade and one of his main tasks is to develop and expand his reading skills. I can’t go argue with this exercise. After all, if he can’t read well, it makes it very difficult for him to learn almost anything in school. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about it because he reads well above grade level and loves reading (like mother, like son).

As you can guess, we borrow a lot of books from the library so we never run out of reading materials. His teacher also encourages reading by providing thick storybooks the kids are supposed to read out loud to their parents every night. This activity seems rather voluntary because my son is starting his third textbook while most of the other kids are still on their first one. I personally enjoy these stories because the textbooks are very old and a lot of the pictures are obviously dated. It doesn’t seem to bother my son though.

He got his latest textbook yesterday. It’s called Shining Bridges and it’s a second semester / second-grade level storybook. The book was published in 1965. Yes, almost 50 years ago. Yikes!

Shining Bridges storybook

Shining Bridges storybook

The very first story is about Eddie, a boy who wants a printing press a store is giving away for free (seriously?). When he’s ready to pick it up, another kid beat him to it. He happens to know the girl and offers her to trade the printing press for another toy. Eddie suggests a doll and she accepts his offer. The problem is, he doesn’t have a doll. So he goes to a resale store and finds one that’s pretty beat up but can be fixed. The store doesn’t have a bag for him to put the doll in and he’s embarassed to be seen holding it (sexist boy!). When a group of boys comes close to him, he puts the doll down and pretends to look at a store window. In the meantime, a dog takes the doll away. Eventually Eddie finds the doll again and this is what happens next.

Make sure you read all the words and look at the pictures. Then you tell me what’s wrong with this story.

Eddie, the doll and the baby carriage

The opposite of a helicopter mom

The opposite of a helicopter mom

Did you notice what’s wrong with this story?

Did you notice there was a baby carriage with a baby in it, outside a store, with absolutely nobody else to watch over it? Did you notice the mom was inside the store the whole time this scene happened?

I guess it’s a miracle our parents didn’t all get kidnapped. From helicopter parents to simply absent parents, from one extreme side of parenting to the other, I’m guessing there has to be a happy middle. What do you think?

31 responses to “The opposite of a helicopter parent

  1. I was wondering where the mom was. I thought it might be the Penguin’s carriage (from an old Batman movie; I could be mixing up my facts because it’s been forever since I saw it, but I thought he was left alone in a carriage and it rolled away). Maybe his life would have changed for good if someone had given him an ugly doll.

  2. I can’t imagine ever leaving my unattended young child. They were like a fifth appendage for me when they were little. How scary!

    • I somehow would believe it did happen in those days. I’ve heard many stories of us being left in cars for long periods of time, while parents were going in a store. I have friends who told me they’d be in charge of “watching” the baby. They had to pass a law in California a couple of years ago to make leaving kids in the car illegal most of the time, for the parents who lack the common sense in the first place.

  3. Oh the stories I could tell you about where my siblings and I were left, but that was back in the 1960’s. It seems that wasn’t a huge concern. LOL :-)
    Loved your photographs on your other blog.

    • Haha, then you’re the proof this book is actually representing the 60s well! That’s the scary part, isn’t it? It reminds me of people that say they survived without seat belts and helmets. I always tell them, that’s because those who didn’t survive are not here to talk about how the lack of seat belts and helmets didn’t work well for them. That usually shuts them up!

  4. That story is wrong on so many levels. What did you son think of it? Does he want his own printing press now?

    • That story is disturbing, isn’t it? My son didn’t see an issue with the baby being outside the store all alone until I pointed it out. Then he thought it wasn’t right. I guess only a parent will catch that part right away.
      We saw a big printing press when we visited Old Town San Diego last summer and my kids got to use the press to print on a piece of paper. They loved it but they realized it’s a lot of work to set all the letters correctly and print, so they enjoyed the computer and the printer a lot more after that!

  5. Quite a different story/picture from anything written today . . . I expect you’ll note other outdated practices as your son reads through it. :D

  6. Awesome, Milka…I will have to share this everywhere.:)
    Yes, kids did have a lot more freedom and babies and young children were left in cars (and probably outside stores) while parents did other errands. I grew up in the projects on the Lower East Side of NYC…and at 5 years old (it was the early 50;s) would walk down 7 flights of stairs to visit with my best friend. We would go across the street (the FDR DRIVE,) to the park by the East River and picnic by ourselves. When I got home from school, my mom would tell me to change into play clothes and go outside…where I would play with friends until it was almost dark…then windows would open in our apartment house…and moms would yell out to their kids to come in for dinner. It was a different time, for sure.
    Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • Thanks for sharing, Vivian! I’m just curious so I’ll ask this question: was anybody in that building watch over the kids, like taking a look through the window? We always hear about communities being tighter years ago, where everybody watched everybody’s kids. From what you describe though, it sounds like you were too far for that.
      I grew up in the projects and I can’t believe what I saw over the years, something I would cringe if my kids saw that at their age. Drunks in the stairwell, teenage gang members looking for trouble, flashers flashing me and my friends on my way to school (repeatedly), men offering candy to entice me and other kids into their cars right outside of school, you name it. Pretty scary stuff…

  7. My Mum worked in a shop and used to leave me outside all day, in good weather! She said she was always finding little gifts in the pram from people who had passed me on the way in to the shop. I was never kidnapped. Not once :)

  8. I’m glad to hear that his teacher is encouraging reading. At least that is still taught in school. I’m still reeling from learning that cursive is being eliminated from our school curriculum. Our kids will be able to read books, but not any of the handwritten inscriptions written in cursive on the inside cover!

    • I’m on the fence about cursive writing. I can’t imagine my kids ever needing to write in cursive but I agree they need to be able to read it. I learned the French cursive and in some ways, it’s different from the American cursive so I can’t read it easily. I think it’s part of a bigger problem of removing anything artistic or musical out of school because it’s not seen as “necessary”. Put the art class back in the classroom and teach cursive there. Kids can draw monograms and other things with cursive letters.

  9. That’s pretty funny. When I saw the cover of that book, my first thought was it looked like a cool way to learn about history by showing what the kids were reading then. But I guess they didn’t always have great lessons. Another disturbing thing was the way he fought with that baby for the doll. Even though it was his, maybe it would have been better to throw a sharing lesson in there.

    • I hear you about sharing, but that kid was on a mission to get his printing press! We’ve read other stories in the book since then and several of them are actually very short versions of longer storybooks, none of which I’ve ever heard of, but they’re interesting nonetheless.

  10. Brilliant!

    When I was pregnant with my eldest a friend of mine was pregnant at exactly the same time. When we visited her mum she always told us the same story about her newborn daughter (my friend 1970’s):

    My friend was just a couple of weeks old and her mum took her to the shops and left her outside (as you did and by the way I remember people in Scotland still doing that 25-30 years ago, actually here in Germany, probably a few still do, I’ve definitely seen the odd abandoned child outside the Kindergarten). She returned home with her shopping and had the feeling she’d forgotten something. Yep! You got it she FORGOT her baby outside the shops.

    • Oh my gosh, I’m glad it ended up well for your friend. A mom’s afterbirth brain can be quite foggy. There have been a few parents here who forgot their sleeping baby in the back of the car, in blasting heat. Terrible outcome. The worst is people who purposely leave their kids inside hot cars…

      • Inside hot cars? That’s terrible.

        My brain was one of the foggy ones. :-) There was a GP at my old practice who had a baby. I had one of my children about the same age and my brain was more than rather foggy. I went to the doctor and she assured me it was normal. Her colleague had returned to work and was so foggy herself that she had to leave again – she could no longer do the job!! I have to say it didn’t make me feel any better when she told me that!

      • Isn’t that foggy brain terrible? I think it’s the combination of sleep deprivation and the sudden hormone changes after birth. I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered though. ;-)

  11. I go for the “Happy Middle” of parenting. Parenting is an on going learning as we go along. We can read stuff about it, listen from our parents and more experience mom and dads but at the end of the day, it’s a unique experience with both its good days, bad days and whatever comes in between. When I was a new parent. Me and my wife lost a stroller outside Pier 1 only to realize it was gone we were about to board the BART train to San Francisco. It was funny yet scary at the same time because it made me realize we can make dangerous mistakes. Thank God we’re all doing well so far. God bless you and your family. Happy Autumn…

    • Oops, I just saw your comment now. I think your parenting style depends on your own personality and your kids’ personality. What works for one doesn’t always work for the other. Losing that stroller must have been quite a scary experience. As long as your family is safe, it always works out in the end. I hope you’re enjoying fall with your family.

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