Speaking from experience, nothing will test your patience or reveal your dark side quicker than being near your children as they pursue something you have expertise in, or even things you don’t know a damn thing about. Darkness looms if you are not careful. Also, taking over becomes a possibility.
I could tell you not so becoming stories of my parental decisions, but I don’t want to jinx my already tenuous status with some of you. Suffice to say that about the time my third son, Tony, evolved into certain outdoor endeavors, my dominating ways were almost non-existant (my previous two sons were not so lucky).
Tony had an early knack with the artistic, whether drawing, painting or tying. His personality prompted Lee Clark (Clark’s Stonefly fame) to recruit Tony to fly tying expo’s and even a Sportsman’s Show (microphone, camera and raised stage at 10 years old). The possibilities of stardom loomed…in my mind…as I eventually saw, Tony was having fun and wanting to please his dad. He did without a doubt. This was ten years ago and the idea of a website or promoting him beyond his legitimate skill sets was not an option, and was not yet an option in my skill sets. But, a small book by a youth fly fisher was suggested, and a dark cloud appeared in the distance.
There were little if any books about fly fishing/fly tying for kids by kids. The Curtis Creek Manifesto (excellent beginner’s book) was available but was not written by a kid. Tony had the desire to draw instructions for the book and had some ideas, but the takeover parent syndrome appeared. I mean you do have to help, to organize, to suggest, to point…right?
Chapters were outlined. Work started. And, then I turned around and my son was off somewhere else. Long and short of it, an actually good idea, was not meant to be because I would have done much of it and done what dads often do…convince their children they want to do something…even when they don’t.
Tony was too young, at 10 years old. Fortunately, I recognized what I had come to recognize in Little League, Babe Ruth baseball, basketball and volleyball that my kids must have the fire in their belly sustained on their own. My children have flourished on their own (Rugby, Summer counselors, working at a fly shop, fire fighting, college, work) when they are perhaps pointed in the direction of an opportunity, and own it their way……or not.
Today, Tony is a heck of a fly fisher, fly tyer, and has worked at a fly shop for several years at a young age (18-20). He does it his way now. Thank goodness I didn’t bulldoze my son into the project.