I am grateful for the lessons Dad taught me while riding horses together when I was young. One obvious lesson was to get back on the horse when you fall off or are thrown. However, my dad used our horses to teach so many other lessons.
When I was around eight my Shetland pony bolted with me on his back with loose reins and my feet out of the stirrups. My dad did not panic instead he got within hearing range to shout these instructions, “Hold on tight, remain calm, and focus on grabbing the reins to slow down.”
When life seems out of control I’ve always referred back to this. I also learned something else valuable that day although at the time I did not realize it. Every time my dad and his horse got close my pony ran faster.
Finally, I had to yell to my father, “Stay back.”
When my pony realized my dad’s horse wasn’t close by, he did slow down. This allowed me to grab the reins and the stirrups.
What did this teach me you wonder?
It taught me that sometimes as parents we have to step back and let our children handle things themselves. This does not mean not being there, my dad wasn’t too far away after all. It is more about being supportive without stepping in which can be very hard as the parent I tell you. I think it is especially difficult when your child has any difference that makes life harder for them. Yet, even they have to be able to work some problems out for themselves.
I learned the lesson.
Yet, it is still hard to remember especially when I see one of my children hurting for some reason. They both are now old enough to ask when they need help and since one day I hope they will be on their own, I have to let them grab the reins themselves while being close enough by to offer advice.
How I sometimes wish life were as simple as it was when they were toddlers! Back then the greatest pains could be kissed away. And before you ask, yes, both of them allowed me to kiss away their pain then. “Oh those were the days my friend!”