By now school is back in session for everyone. The last wave started either yesterday or today following the Labor Day holiday. My kids started last week. My wife, this week.
The first day of school is marked by parents taking extra pictures while frantically making sure their child has everything ready. A certain type of parent, the "helicopter parent", will even follow their child to school to make sure they get in the right classroom, get along with the right kids, and do all the "right" things. They watch to make sure Johnny isn't picked last when teams are drawn up for kickball and make sure Sally is called on first when she raises her hand in class.
The name, helicopter parent, comes from the image of these parents hovering over their children in every facet of their day. I want to add another type of parent to our nomenclature- the drone parent (more catchier than UAV parent, I think). This parent also hovers, but not as close. Like an un-piloted drone, they hover high up where they can't be seen, but are constantly on surveillance.
I admit, I'm a drone parent. We followed our children to school, took all the pictures, hugged each maybe just a little too long and watched as they went off to their class. But we didn't leave. We stood back and we watched. How would our son respond to his new teacher? Which of his best friends are back after the summer and will be in his class? Unlike helicopter parents, who have a reputation of control, drone parents simply stand back and watch and respond to the data they receive.
But even that is too much. Watching other parents drop their children off last week- some helicopter, some drone, some "bombers" (drop the kids off and fly away)- it occurred to us that it didn't matter how close we stayed or how much we watched. As other parents commented on which teacher was the best (and of course, their child had to be in that class) and which children were the worst, we realized that it all really doesn't matter. Yes, it is important that our children receive a quality education. Yes, there are certain kids and some demographics that are obstacles to learning. But we are not dropping off our children to never see them again. They may spend more of their waking hours at school, but it is ultimately at home where they will learn the most. One teacher or one bad apple child in the first grade will not change the ultimate fate of my child.
So the drone has to fly back to base. We have to let them go. We have to trust that God is in control.