steering a path

The one who holds my heart and I were sharing dad stories this father’s day morning and as I was talking about my memories of dad running the motor and trolling from the back of the boat while my brother, sisters and I would cast along the reedline, she looked at me and said “he steered for you.”

It was one of those moments, like the moment she opened my eyes to mom’s creativity as a mother of six children. (see my blog “Creative Motherhood” from this past March) I was stunned, then watery-eyed thinking that yes, my brother, sisters and I were casting wildly about at the front of the boat while dad steered the boat along the invisible path above the dropoff.

Dad was steering, letting us learn how to anticipate the wind, how to lead our cast ahead of the boats path, how to sequence our casts so we would get our lines tangled (as often.) He was showing us the way around the lake, and the lake was showing us that more often than not, our time on the water was about fishing, not catching.

I can think now about those hours in the boat with dad, that fishing is a lot like parenting. Its not a lecture class, its a hands-on-make-mistakes-and-learn (or don’t) kind of education. As the one who holds my heart and I talked, I remembered the saturday mornings going with dad to the warehouse, stopping at Mary’s coffee shop for bacon and eggs and seeing that everyone knew dad’s name. Then sweeping the warehouse, washing trucks, loading trucks, and heading to lehrners delicatessen to buy lunch meat for the family and getting the reward for working…orange crush!

Parents teach us even when they don’t think they are teaching us. I can’t say that I had intentions to teach my daughters by taking pride in my work, whether it was in the pattern that resulted from mowing the lawn with the contours of the yard, or the look of a freshly armor-alled tire on the car. But I realize now that I learned those things from my parents. Its a good thing for much of the time, and seeing my daughters working hard with their heads and hearts gives me great pride and makes me hope I was a part of them learning that. I think too that those things that we do (or don’t do) as parents teaches our children too. I’m thinking about being able to ask for help when needed.

I know that by not asking for help from my daughters, I missed out on chances to let them learn, I’m sure that’s just one of the things I taught them without knowing I was teaching them something that’s not a good life-skill. Theres not much better than having people pitch in to help when you’re overwhelmed with something, and its a pretty good feeling to pitch in and help too.

Like a lot of dads, i don’t have a boat, and my children are far from my sight, so i can’t help point out good places to cast their lines, or help them land the big fish, but i’m hoping my path is something they can extract the good things from and leave the rest behind.

Keep your casters in mind as you troll along from the back of the boat, try to stay on the path. Remember, our children are always learning from us, not just the times we think we’re teaching.

Take care, steer a productive path

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