The term "helicopter parent" came to mind when I read the Hawaii Reporter article that Tim mentioned in his June 6 post about parents lobbying for next year's classroom placements. Helicopter parents are so named because they hover above their children at all times, ready to swoop down and perform heroic rescues should their little dears stub a toe or get a grumpy teacher.

College administrators began using the phrase several years ago after noticing that parents were so used to managing every aspect of their children's lives, they couldn't let go once their kids entered college. (It's time to land the helicopter and get a hobby when you find yourself pulling an all-nighter to write your college sophomore's term paper, then calling the professor to dispute the grade).

OK. So trying to influence which teacher your child gets in elementary school isn't the same as following the kid to college and moving into the dorm. But try to begin the process with the assumption that all of the teachers are equally qualified and the people making the placements have a pretty good idea where your child will best fit in. Then you can weigh in with your thoughts talk with the decision makers about your child's personality and how he learns best. Describe the sort of classroom environment where he's likely to thrive. But that's about as far as I'd go.

Now I must confess that this year I went one tiny step further. I asked that my son be placed with a certain friend. My son has been with the same group of 13 children since kindergarten. This fall when the kids go into 4th grade, they'll be split up and mixed in with other students for the first time. When I think of my child in a large class half-filled with people he doesn't know, I go into mild shock. Placing my son with his friend is for me, anyway a medical necessity.

When I asked his teacher to put the two together, she pulled out a class list in progress and pointed to two names. "I already did," she said. I knew I could trust her judgment.