I used to operate the bullhorn for the annual Egg Hunt in my community. My job was to announce when the “little kids” should line up at the ropes surrounding the field sprinkled with pastel-colored, candy-filled plastic eggs. Then when the first round was over and new eggs were laid out in the grass, I’d announce that it was the “big kids'” turn. In between, I’d remind everyone to “share, share, that’s fair.”
The parents, for the most part, behaved themselves and nobody got hurt, including me.
No so in Colorado Springs where the every-mom-for-herself attitude at last year’s egg hunt prompted organizers to cancel this year’s egg hunt. When the bullhorn malfunctioned at last year’s event, reports Fox News, the emcee used an old PA system that was hard to hear. Someone thought they heard “Go!” and before they knew it, parents were scooping up kids in one arm and eggs in the other to make sure their offspring got their fair share of the sugary fun.
Parenting experts interviewed for the article blamed the rise in helicopter parenting for the incident, and that may be partially true. Our parents probably wouldn’t have stepped in to make sure we kiddies got a few eggs, as they were too busy planning cocktail parties and talking about what happened on M*A*S*H, or whatever. But I have to go with the parents, not the experts, on this one.
I remember well the long, sometimes agonizing days of raising small kids, when the world revolved around the Easter Bunny and egg hunts and promises made to little ones, who hold the key to the sweet possibility of a full night’s sleep or a quiet afternoon nap or simply not melting into a puddle of misery right there in front of God and everyone. The annual egg hunt was both an exciting once-a-year tradition that lasted but a few years before the kids outgrew it, as well as a method of killing a few hours with the promise of getting to talk to real, live grown-ups. (Sadly, Oprah never answered my questions from the TV.)
As a parent of small children, you’re tired. Your back aches from all that hoisting and carrying squirmy kids. You have circles under your eyes and dirt under your nails and you’re wearing your sweatshirt inside out and backwards. But you don’t notice that, and if you did, you wouldn’t care anyway. Why expend the energy fixing that when there’s a Tonka truck that needs a tire, a diaper that needs a change and a sock puppet show that needs a plot? No, the Egg Hunt just might mean you get to stand there with empty arms for a few minutes, enjoying the kind of moments you usually see only in commercials for Easter outfits at Sears.
So if someone mistakes “Hello” for “Go!” and suddenly, mayhem breaks out at the egg hunt, I get it. I can totally forgive parents for making sure their kid gets an egg because some jackass started it all by curling his kid under his arm in a football hold and scooping up all the eggs he could find.
Because if you leave the egg hunt without an egg, it will no doubt mean hours of misery ahead. And that has a lot less to do with modern helicopter parenting as it does with getting some stinkin’ peace for an hour or two. Chances are, most of the parents didn’t perform this nasty display of parental interception for their precious little ones. They did it for themselves, and I don’t blame them.
Except for the idiot who started it. Share, share, that’s fair, pal.
What do you think? Is this helicopter parenting at its worst?