Our team is made up of some of the most sock-obsessed people in the world. At the sock shop, our staff takes pride in our work — and so do our parents! Because of my position there (previously Assistant Sock Designer for our house brand ModSocks and currently Inside Sales) my folks know the hard work involved in the creation of our successful sock line.
My mom comments from her iPad on just about everything we post on Facebook. I now see the correlation between my wild-child self and her undeniable inhibition she feels on her iPad. If she could heart react more than once to our content, she would. My parents not only raised my brother and I to be independent, but also to be confident of our life’s work.
My mom hates having her photo taken, unless it's her feet in ModSocks!
Amid all of the pictures on Facebook of crazy socks, friend’s newly appointed feline work apprentices and home renovations, I have noticed something interesting.
Now, when my mom comments on our novelty sock posts, I respond by obsessively making sure she and my dad staying safe during the Coronavirus pandemic. I’ve taken on a surprise role reversal in my parents’ lives through our phones. I am a Helicopter Child.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the viral term Helicopter Parents that arose about a decade ago. The basic idea is that Helicopter Parents hover and micromanage their child’s every move. I am one of many loud and proud Helicopter Children to my parents in this time of pandemic, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, but I fondly remember how I was raised. Growing up in unincorporated Covington, WA, I had the freedom to run around in the woods and build fairy houses as a kid. To say my parents were Helicopter Parents, before the term even existed, would be a big fat lie. They let us roam, eat dirt pies and make mistakes.
A family walk at Little Soos Creek. It must have been a Sunday because Dad's wearing slippers.
We were about as free as our 8 indoor/outdoor cats, perhaps with less fleas. In the late 90s my brother and I shared an idyllic childhood. We grew up in a time when technology didn’t rule our lives but it grew up parallel to us. The unmistakable sound of our desktop computer turning on as it connected to dial-up rings in my ears to this day. One of my parents' memories was a time I memorized the numbers ‘911’ from a sticker pasted on our spiral corded phone. I dialed it, and being a two year old had nothing but gibberish to mutter to the other line. Thankfully, using their best judgement, the dispatcher called back and got my mom on the line to explain the accident.
From early in my life phones were the bare minimum of necessity in our household even though we were wild children. Eventually my family got cordless phones, flip phones, then Razors, Blackberries and now, the ubiquitous iPhone (except Dad; he shows up as the cursed green). Though my parents and I live only 2 hours driving distance from each other since I moved to Bellingham in 2010 for college, our phones have kept us together, something they continue to do now more than ever before.
This unprecedented time calls for unprecedented measures. I’m not approaching this Helicopter Child role with any leeway. Because my brother and I were raised in an unconventional way, I’m flailing at what are best practices to tame these adults who make their own decisions. Working from home as the Inside Sales Representative for ModSocks has given me ample room to think about what my parents are doing with their time.
My office/bedroom that I share with my partner, who gets shooed out every time I make a phone call to an account.
Our bi-monthly check-ins have turned into daily texts from me mining for information on their whereabouts from my quarantine. My mom’s fear of not finding chicken at the deli turns into me taking it on as my problem. On top of my constant anxiety of who they’re standing in line behind at the grocery store, my parents are in the process of buying a house right now. Who are these realtors and where have their hands been? In my mind they look like villains plotting their next disease victim outfitted in leather trench coats and Google glasses. In an event where I should be excited for my parents, I’m instead reminding them to wear masks at the house viewings and not shaking hands. Surely I want to trust these people; after all they’re just doing their job but these are my parents. Do they know better? Is it my job to teach them? Are they too old to learn?
Helping Dad dig the first hole on the property my parents are now moving from. What is he holding in his hands??
Parenting my parents during the COVID-19 pandemic has been trying but ultimately worth the emotional ups and downs. This experience reminds me of how my parents now reflect on their pride and effort of raising my brother and I, however with a much shorter duration and far less screaming. Much like when I was in high school, I’m assuming my parents are omitting some information to keep my mind at rest. This role reversal has given me unique insight into not only how to tactfully sleuth, but how my parents built a relationship with me by allowing me freedom.
I’m realizing that I need to trust my parents with their word. I need to believe them when they tell me where they’ve been and for how long. When the pandemic comes to an end I’ll look back at this time and know I tried my best at this role. As much as I miss being in their presence, this time of social distancing has taught me that presence doesn’t have to mean physical. With each comment on the Facebook, my mom reminds me of how our support is a constant exchange that will last beyond the COVID-19 quarantine.