You may not have heard the term “helicopter parent.” It’s a term professors use to describe parents who are “involved” in their children’s college education, i.e. those kids who call their parents when they walk from class to class.
Cal and I had a serious helicopter moment today. We have two kids, Luke and Ariel, who started college this year. We were a little more concerned about Ariel since she started college a year early. Most parents I talked to who had a child who started early, especially a girl, admitted that they were fairly protective of their child.
But I was actually doing pretty well. Okay, pretty well for me. I didn’t talk to the kids while they were at classes—if they called between classes I said, “Do you need something because I’m busy?” Though I listened with great delight to their stories over dinner.
But this morning, Cal discovered Ariel’s calculator on the floor. This wouldn’t be a huge deal except that Ariel has a differential equations exam this morning. DE is a class from the nether regions. The prof? Suffice it to say I’ve blogged about him before.
Given that Ariel has a history of last minute preparations, we assumed she forgot the calculator. We mulled the options: Ignore the find and hope things went well, hope she could borrow a calculator from the prof (though I’ve heard horror stories about students who forget calcs), or bring her calc to her.
As we pondered, I said: “I’m not sure she needs a calculator for DE.”
Cal said: “What do you mean? It’s a math class.”
Me: “Yeah, but I don’t think they actually do much with numbers. I think it’s weird alphabet math.”
Cal: “But what if she needs it?”
We called her cell. Sadly, her phone was off. Deciding it’s better to be safe than sorry, we drove down to UTC. I navigated the convoluted corridors of the Engineering, Math, Computer Science (EMCS) complex of buildings. When I found the class room, I looked through the glass windows. Heads were bent over sheaves of paper. But only about ten heads. Ariel told me there were 25 students. I guess a lot of students dropped the class after the first exam. The prof, who curiously did not have horns, was reading a book. He noticed me. I held up a calculator. He nodded, and I walked in. Not a single head looked up. I slipped the calculator onto Ariel’s desk. She glanced at me and said, “I didn’t need it.”
I left quickly. I haven’t heard from her yet. I’m considering blaming it on Cal.