A helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead
AND SO it came to pass that it was my turn to chauffeur my young one and her friends to the disco in a place far, far away.
No longer content with the local school hops, the girls have graduated to a more sophisticated, proper night club in a metropolis that’s a good distance from our quiet, rural town.
(The club is serving soft drinks only for the teen night out and has the audacity to charge €5 a pop for a 7Up or Coke.)
The four girls pile into my car, too buzzed to notice the dirt of it, and immediately start hopping off information on their phones.
In the car, there’s my 15-year-old, her three friends (Sorcha, Sinéad and Siobhán) and me at the steering wheel.
“This is cra, cra but some of the lads have been turned away at the door. They’re mouldy drunk, apparently,” Sorcha announces, feeling so important that she forgets that there’s an actual adult in the car with them.
“Sorcha, who are these upstanding young men that you’re referring to?” I ask, glancing into the mirror to view the girls in the back seat. “I could give them a lift back home if they need it. I wouldn’t want them to be wandering around all night.”
“Oh, oh, nobody that you’d know,” came the reply. “Hold on. No. I misread the Snapchat. I’m completely wrong; they’re not drunk at all. They’re only messing with me. Really, honestly. Nothing to worry about.”
See, right there, there’s the problem. I was happily ignoring the shenanigans that arise when two or more hormonally-overloaded teenagers get together, let alone hundreds of them in a packed, hot, sweaty nightclub.
I had been asked by the parents’ council before to help supervise the local disco but, fearing what I would see, I turned the offer down. See no evil, that kind of thing.
But now, here I am, privy to a conversation that I couldn’t not hear.
“Where are your jackets, girls? You’ll catch your death in those get-ups,” I say, briskly bringing the conversation to a safe, motherly place. All four of them were wearing tight lycra tops and skirts, leaving them nowhere to hide anything.
“At least the bouncers won’t have to search us,” my young one says, and the others screech laughing.
We’re getting closer now to the disco in the place far, far away. It’s in a town that has money or, at least, used to have money, back in the heady era of the Celtic Tiger. Back then, helicopters would fly rich people, dignitaries and coat-tailers to the nearby racecourse, where champagne was on tap and the talk was about property prices.
There’s money still in the town, as evident from the expensive boutiques and bespoke cheese shops. There’s not a chopper in sight, though, as I pull up outside the nightclub.
Girls as young as 14 try to manage their ridiculously high heels and the boys dig their hands deep into their jacket pockets, trying to look nonchalant.
My four young charges bail out of the car, none of them looking back at me.
I wait to see them queue up with the others and, eventually, they reach the front door, where three bouncers stand on guard.
Needless to say, none of my girls were searched because they’d nothing to hide and nowhere to hide it if they did. I choke up, terrified for them all and what the night might bring.
I wanted a helicopter to land right there in the car park so I could whisk them all away back home.
Instead, I light a cigarette, start the car and drive away.