It's Not Me, It's Him: I Have a Helicopter Kid

I have a helicopter kid.
I have a helicopter kid.

If you see me at the playground, you'll see that my 3-year-old son, Laszlo, is almost always within a few feet of me. I often hold his hand as he goes down the slide. He plays with me more than he plays with the other kids. I even climb to the top of playground equipment with him. At parties, I go into the bouncie houses with him.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm a helicopter mom. But I'm not. He's a helicopter kid.

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Laszlo has been clingy since birth. I had bassinets and cribs all over the house, but he wouldn't let me put him down in any of them. Yet, he refused to be carried in wrap or baby carrier. He just wanted to be held. All the time. I couldn't take a shower unless he was sleeping or if my husband, Joel, was watching him. He would cry if I left the room. I've heard stories of moms plopping their babies or toddlers in a Pack and Play and making dinner or accomplishing other feats of greatness. To them I say, You lucky bitches!

He wasn't one of those babies who would just take off exploring and crawling around the house. He was too clingy and cautious for that. He took a long time to start walking and I now wonder if it's because he was a afraid of falling. (Once he started walking, he did it right: He almost never fell.) We barely needed to child-proof our house. We had a gate at the top and bottom of our stairs and some of those plastic safety plug things and that's about it. I'm not even sure that the gates were necessary, since he didn't even attempt to walk on the stairs without one of us by his side until very recently. When he was crawling around the floor as a baby, he found one of those plastic safety plugs things that had been taken out and he handed it to Joel as if to say, "Hey, idiot: The next time you unplug a lamp in this house, take my safety into consideration, all right?!"

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Part of the reason why Laszlo still clings to me so much could be because he's been the victim of many toddler beatings. And part of the reason why he's a helicopter kid is just his personality, I suspect. My husband and I were both shy, introverted children. We've each worked hard on this since childhood and we can now socialize with relative ease, but I'm sure it's built into our genes. He must have inherited it from both of us.

Laszlo still won't let us leave a room. He might play by himself for a little while, but within a few minutes, he usually comes looking for us. You'd think by the way Laszlo clings to us that he's had an unstable life. Or that I don't spend enough time with him. But I'm a full time mom. And Joel works from home. This kid spends so much time with us, he should be dying to get away from us.

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I know it probably looks like I'm a helicopter mom. But I just have a helicopter kid. So, if you happen to catch me emailing or texting on my iPhone at the playground or in line at the grocery store, don't shake your head at me and think what a shame it is that I'm not paying attention to my kid. I assure you I've been paying very close attention to him all day. And in about five seconds, he's going to ask me to hold his hand again.

- By Cassandra Barry

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Cassandra Barry is sometimes known for playing the role of "my lovely wife" in Joel Stein's columns for Time magazine and other publications. His story in which she ate her own placenta in pill form is the one she's most often asked about. Her son, Laszlo, is in preschool. After several years in New York City, she loves living in Los Angeles, where she works as a textile designer.

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