A Photo Finish for a Helicopter Mom

My husband and I have been surprised throughout my son’s school years when pictures of him have shown up in our newspaper, The Tallahassee Democrat.

There was the “Home Alone”-ish shot of him watching his teachers do a presentation designed to get him excited for standardized testing.

Mom Fail

And the shot from Summer Track in 2008, noting his “shirtless and shoeless” status:
Mom Fail

Photo Credit: Phil Sears, Tallahassee Democrat

You Never Know When Your Shoes Will Matter

As high school graduation day approached for Wayne, I shared this phrase with friends in real life, in Facebook groups, and wherever else I could:

“After this one last detail, I am officially retiring my helicopter rotors.”

What was the big graduation-related detail that I just had to have go my way in order to avoid a “mom fail”? I needed him to have nice shoes. At his convocation ten days prior, I was mortified to see the state of his shoes. (My daughter, who graduated three years ago, was very particular about clothing and shoes, so I had not had a reason to helicopter in for anything related to her graduation ceremonies.)

Immediately after convocation, I told him he needed to get better shoes and that I would pay for them. In the ten days between convocation and graduation, he put some shoes in our Amazon cart that I rejected (they were too expensive and I was pretty sure the only thing he would be wearing these shoes for would be graduation and his any funerals in the near future (we have a relative on hospice care)). I was pro-Amazon because I have a gift card balance but didn’t want to use that much of it on shoes that wouldn’t get worn often.

Once I rejected the Amazon idea, we fell into a pretty typical communication pattern between us. It went something like this, with variations over the ten days:

ME: “You need to get shoes.” Related emotional state: Frustration that it wasn’t getting done, worry about spending more money, annoyance that for the umpteenth time in our parent-child relationship I was carrying the worry-weight of something that didn’t matter to him.

HIM: “Yeah. Okay.” With some variation of “It would be easier on Amazon” or “I’ll get to it” thrown in but no action. His related emotional state: My guess may be wrong, because I’m not him. BUT I’m pretty sure it was heavier on the “will she just stop with the shoes thing?” than on determination to take care of a graduation-related detail and erase one worry off my list.

Graduation Day Dawns

I woke up graduation morning, fretting (still). The shoes had not been bought. He was going to graduate no matter what was on his feet, so as long as the shoes were the “dark” shoes required by the dress code, what did it really matter? Did his ratty shoes really equate to a “mom fail”?

We also had limited time. I needed him home (as he had agreed to be) from noon to 3 because I had plans and we can’t leave my father-in-law alone. After three, it would be almost time to leave for the ceremony. He had a brief period the morning of graduation to do this.

What Happened?

He bought shoes. They are actually shoes he likes, so maybe they will get worn beyond graduation and funerals.

I asked myself multiple times why it really mattered, because out of almost 500 graduates, who would be inspecting his shoes? His diploma would be just as valid no matter what was on his feet.

But, as the Kiger family has learned over the years, you just never know when the local newspaper may take your picture and an entire community (plus all your mom’s friends on Facebook) will see that your shoes did, indeed, look great.

Mom Fail

Photo Credit: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat

Are the Helicopter Rotors Gone?

Do me a favor and ask me that once his thank you notes are done!

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This post was inspired by the Mama Kat writing prompt, “share a mom fail.”

Mom Fail