In my line of work – which generally involves drinking rubbish coffee and shouting obscenities all day – modern catchphrases and buzzwords are an occupational hazard.
When we at LEP Towers are not, cursing, supping brews, blue sky thinking or indulging in a thought cascade we spend much of our time struggling to decipher nonsense press releases from London-based PR operatives, usually called Spike, Pippa or Bekki (with two ks of course).
These sushi munching pains are largely responsible for phrases such as flexitarian (a ‘vegetarian’ who chows down on a bacon butty now and again) or a dumbphone, which is what you and I would call a mobile phone that only makes calls and send texts – a proper one.
But my phrase-of-the-moment is helicopter parents, a term used to describe over protective mums and dads who hover around their offspring to ensure they survive colouring-in or gymnastics without rupturing their spleen.
I only recently discovered this incredibly middle class term when reading a story about a young American (of course) woman who obtained a restraining order against her over-bearing folks who had refused to give her space.
I also learned about another loon in the US who had built a drone – rather like the ones which kill innocents and, occasionally, suspected Taliban members – to follow his son from their front door to the bus stop.
Like most right-minded folk I have always treated people like this with disdain – kids need space and if you molly coddle them you won’t get any thanks. Being the dad of a typically independent-minded three year old, my parenting style is generally to step in when needed.
But I had never considered myself neurotic, until my little girl and I went on our first sledging adventure last week. It was my first time as a parent participant in this seasonal pastime and I could not have been more excited as it brought back all sort memories from my own childhood. What I had forgotten, however, is what a precarious experience sledging can be, especially when the tiny pilot is unable to steer her way out of trouble, which usually manifests itself in the shape of a well-built eight-year-old called Connor on a lethal looking wooden sledge.
There cannot be many more undignified sights than watching an inappropriately dressed thirty-something buffoon career down an icy slope in pursuit of his stricken charge, who happens to be laughing her head off.
Like most of the parents in the park that day I adopted an overly aggressive approach to childcare, making it clear that there was a three foot ‘exclusion zone’ around my precious child and anyone who breached it would be met with a shrill, almost feminine, cry of ‘watch out, be careful’.
I never thought I’d ever sound like my ma, but that day on the suburban ‘black run’, I achieved just that. With bells on. In the world of helicopter parents, I was a Sea King Dad.