Stepping Back as Your Kids Step Up

We are excited to bring you this series by brand-new contributor, Andrew Meyer – please help us give him a warm RCM welcome! Look for “Tales From the Dadside” on the last Friday of each month, and be sure to send it to other Rocket City Dads you know and love.
“I got one, I got one” blasted from Mae’s mouth and echoed around the lake as the four of us stood motionless on a pier near sundown. Then, just as quickly, her tongue went back to its focused spot, pressed firmly to the crease of her mouth, as her eyes squinted, and her hand cranked the reel in rhythmic circles to land a 4” fish on a 30” rod. This was followed by: a series of squeals, laughs, mentions of her Uncle, pleads to take the fish off herself, me insisting I take the fish off, me pushing the hook too far into the fish’s mouth, telling the kids to look away, pulling the hook from inside the fishes belly, tossing it into the lake in hopes that it would sink, and then, we went back to fishing.

Mae loves to fish, and her sister Haze is quite fond of it as well. Haze catches a fish every time – we haven’t taken the plastic one off her pole yet. At 2, she isn’t quite ready for hooks, and with the way she attacks her sister from “out-of-the-blue”, it’s probably best not to tempt fate. I quoted out of the blue because I recently discovered what causes these sudden attacks; it is what Haze has come to call Mae’s “mean face”, and I have to admit, it IS a bit troubling.

Having had three older brothers and a younger sister, I understand the back and forth struggle that exists between siblings. I am comfortable that they are going to love and play as hard as they argue and push away, but what I didn’t realize was how early it starts, and how firmly they have already established the rules of the game.
[pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]“… it’s tough to realize that the girls are getting older, and as a result, will need me less. ”[/pullquote] Mae is what I like to call the Silent Assassin. At 5 she understands what a turned back is, and executes her plan to poke at her sister physically or psychologically and then moves in the other direction. On the other hand, Haze doesn’t understand the concept of sly, and bull charges Mae at the slightest provocation.

I used to try and intervene in these matters; I would start by saying “Mae!” in a loud-you-better-stop voice, but after blindly calling names and trying to intervene at every cry I realized that I was making matters worse. I realized the further I stepped away, the quicker and quieter the situation resolved itself.

Mae is a fisher of sisters. She often stands on shore, casts her line, and gets Haze to bite. Sometimes Haze gets away, other times Mae reels her in, and I need to stand back and let the sport play out. Learning to step back is tough. It’s not tough to not be involved in every situation, it’s tough to realize that the girls are getting older, and as a result, will need me less. They are still young, but are now learning the skills necessary to resolve conflict and “take the fish off the hook themselves”.

Perhaps there wouldn’t have been gasps at the floating fish if I had left Mae to her own devices.

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