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Are Helicopter Parents Taking the Place of God?

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A child, who shall remain nameless, came home tonight from her first softball practice of the season having discovered that none of her former teammates are on her team this year. And, even suckier, several of them ended up on the same team.

She was distraught. Quite distraught. I felt really bad for her. It does suck. So I leapt into action, digging the softball commissioner's digits out of my husband with a hacksaw. I was going to fix this, stat! But something strange happened. As I dialed with murderous rage, a little part of me stepped outside of my body to observe.

The Commish picked up. I tried to keep my voice level and calm despite the distraught ruckus in the background, explained the situation to the Commish, then awaited his answer. The part of me that had stepped outside of the situation and was carefully observing the exchange, overheard how instantly on edge the Commish sounded on the other end of the phone line. It was as if he were prepared to have my arm reach through the phone line and snatch off his balls.

Just that moment's tremor of wariness in his voice calmed me down. No matter what he said, I knew my kid was not going to move teams, we were not going to let her drop out of the season and she would eventually make friends on her new team and everything would be fine.

I listened as the Commish explained that my daughter was one of the strongest in-fielders, which is why they needed her where she was to balance the talent. He had me at 'complimenting my kid's athleticism.' Now, the calm me and the freaked out/helicoptering/I-don't-ever-want-my-kid-to-suffer-even-though-it-might-force-her-to-grow-up me merged.

There were more tears and recriminations once I shared the sad news. First I empathized, then enough was enough. The evening ended with my daughter coming into my bedroom and telling me she'd been praying to God about getting on a team with her friends, and also about middle school and also about puberty and that God wasn't holding up His end of the deal and that she doesn't believe in him anymore.

We don't go to church. We don't have a spiritual plan. We pray spottily. Still, I found myself saying that she didn't have to believe in God if she didn't want to. But that sometimes the God of my understanding doesn't give me what I want, but often He gives me what I need. And maybe this disappointment would help her grow strong enough to handle further disappointments life will throw her way, regardless of how good she is. And maybe she'll grow to be so strong that disappointments won't scare her very much anymore.