Let’s play name that parent

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By Maddie Baker

Illustration by Faith Evans
Illustration by Faith Evans

Parents or guardians, we all have these people in our lives who look after us… whether it be mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. They make sure we don’t starve to death, get kidnapped on the way to school, trip and die while walking down the stairs, get food poisoning while out with friends, or fry our brains by staring at our phone screens. Some of us get the more nonchalant guardian, who lets you do pretty much whatever you want as long as you’re home by 11. Others essentially live in a “this is not a democracy, this is a dictatorship” type of household. Parents are not limited to these two archetypes, though. This is a parent survival guide for those who don’t consider themselves parent whisperers.

Helicopter parents are those parents who are always hovering. They are the parents that follow you around with a pair of binoculars on your first date. Helicopter parents baffle the teenage mind with their dazzling thought process of what could make a situation, like going to the park late at night with your friends, dangerous or unsuitable for their precious baby who still needs a nightlight to go to sleep. These parents are the “NO” parents. You know, the one that nags about eating vegetables and going to bed at curfew. They can be identified in an argument with the phrase, “I’m not trying to be mean, but I just want what’s best for you” or, my personal favorite, “I’m not mad, just disappointed.” How they manage to fit a whole 52 powerpoint slide lecture in 14 words or less is truly an astounding talent, but they also fit a three-word sentence into a three-hour speech.

What-if parents are tied in overprotectiveness with the helicopter parent. They have to ask a bajillion questions before you do anything. “When is it? What is it? How long are you going to be there? How are you getting there? Who are you going with?” On and on, the list of questions seem endless, and that isn’t all. As you’re leaving, here comes the list of reminders. “Don’t talk to strangers. Wear sunscreen. Will it be cold? You should take a jacket. Take some money of your own. Is your phone charged? Make sure to update me…” You love them, but sometimes you need to love them from a distance.

The zamboni is one of those big, goofy-looking machines that are driven around the ice rink to make it all smooth for the skaters. Zamboni parents smooth the way for their kids. These parents makes your bed and your lunch and your breakfast and your dinner, and even types up your English essay for you. These are the parents that teachers will often complain about because they will send emails asking for special treatment like extended due dates for heartbroken, stressed out Susie or Jimmy or poor old Billy Bob Joe. If a child calls the zamboni parents saying he or she has a headache or a hangnail, they’ll come and get their suffering child straight away because anything less would be cruel and an unusual punishment.

Skydive parents are the parents that thrust you into the world then say, “Hope you make it, Squirt.” More or less. They’ll push you out of the plane, and you get to do most of the maneuvering, but they’re the parachute that’ll make sure you don’t end up a pancake on the concrete. They let their kids be very independent, which can be good in the sense you have more freedom than some other teenagers. This independence also means that you are going to be making your own stinking lunch. They care, but that doesn’t mean they’re your cleaning ladies, lawyers, chauffeurs, or souffle chef in any way. Need some cash? Get a job, 15 isn’t too young. There are toddlers in Africa working harder.

Blindfold parents are the parents that show their love by not setting any boundaries. These parents firmly believe that their offspring should have the right to become their own person without an intimidating authority figure mandating how they choose to live. That’s all fine and dandy, for the kids of those parents, but the rest of us often have to assume the role of a parent to try to get said offspring to do anything. The blindfold parents don’t think it’s their place to dictate their child’s life simply because they share DNA, but some kids let this type of freedom and responsibility go to their heads and now you’ve got a Dennis the Menace.

Dreamcatcher parents are stereotypical ‘90s movie type parents. They gave up the chance at all their hopes and dreams for one thing or another, but, now that they have kids, all their dreams can be fulfilled. Who’s going to fulfill them? Their kids, of course. The mom who almost made it to Harvard before life got in the way, wants her daughter to be a lawyer. The dad who was a former champion quarterback but got hurt before he could be drafted into the NFL, wants his son to go pro for their favorite team. Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re encouraging and supportive, always boasting about their poster child and how overwhelmingly proud they are… as long as their super star is chasing the career that they missed out on.

Divorced parents are the parents that you stay with on the weekends. They are loosey-goosey when it comes to rules because they don’t have to live with you on a daily basis. If there is ever something that you want to do that you know that the parent living with you will say no to, ask the other one. They let you stay up too late watching scary movies and eating food that will rot your teeth. Sometimes, it’s awkward to hang out with divorced parents because they treat you more like a buddy than their child. It’s why they let you get away with so much stuff, but it also makes them more inclined to try to talk to you about their relationship problems. Or even worse, your relationship problems.

Partner-in-crime parents are the parents that are always willing to help you out in a jam. They’re the type of parents who will take you and your friends into an R-rated movie. These parents take your side in an argument when the other parent is being overbearing or ridiculous. The partner-in-crime parent can sometimes be confused with BFF parents, but BFF parents are the ones that you always go to talk to. They are the parents that all of your friends want to have. They’re super chill, but a lot of the times you’re more of an adult than they are, unlike the partner-in-crime parent.

Perfectionist parents are parents who want you to have perfect grades, perfect behavior, and go to a perfect school with perfect friends. Failure is not an option. These parents define tough love. It can be hard to live with perfectionist parents with their sometimes impossible standards, but they still love you. The PTA parents, on the other hand, are the parents who want to be involved in everything for you. They volunteer at school, boy scouts, soccer, piano, the list goes on and on. They are never far from a batch of cookies and juice boxes. You may be embarrassed by these parents trying to keep up with the trends, but they make really good cookies, so it’s okay.

Workaholic parents are parents who are -no surprise here- always working. They parent their kids around their work schedule. Asking them for favors can be difficult because they go the extra mile at work. You know they are always there for you, but it feels like they never are. Big track meet this weekend? Susie’s mom is going to have to cheer you on or comfort you during the most painful 10 seconds of your life after losing to your rival.They love you, but you become extremely independent when having workaholic parents.

All parents drive their kids crazy in some way or another, even if it’s the most insignificant thing. It doesn’t matter what nickname you give your parents for their irritating… I mean lovable quirks. Deep down, sometimes really deep, deep down and hidden in a hole under the weight of life’s problems that seem to get heavier by the day, you know that they only want what they think is best for you. Just remember that they love you. Oh, and we all have to admit, we love them, too.