Last Sunday when we rode the quad recumbents on the Katy Trail, I learned a thing or two.
After hurting her back trying to ride as far as I can, my sister Deb hasn't ridden for over a month now. We rented a quad for her, and I set out to pedal for her. She hated being carted along like one of the old people but accepted it because otherwise Mom and Dad would feel bad.
So, there we are, rolling down the trail, and Deb takes over the steering. Mind you, I'm handling the locomotion for the unit, but she cannot tolerate letting me steer. (Both sides have handlebars and brakes.) This wasn't too big a problem on the open road, but we had to pass through three gates, each of which had about an inch of clearance total.
As we approached the first gate, I tried to steer us through, aiming toward my side of the gate. Deb pull strongly in the other direction. Irritation flashed through me—I'm driving. Why can't she just let me drive?—and I jerked the other direction. We barely made it through.
As we approached the second gate, I slowed way down. Deb added pedaling to her steering. "Deb, we need to slow down."
"No, we don't. We're fine," she said, pedaling faster and pulling the handlebars in the opposite direction. I put on the brakes and resisted her steering. The bar of the gate was 6 inches from her chest before I realized how off course we were—one inch before I got the bike stopped.
Deb could have steered us through. I could have steered us through. But fighting back and forth for control nearly caused disaster.
On the third gate, I put my hands in my lap and asked her to steer.
When we oh-so-narrowly avoided that second gate, I ran smack into a hard reality. I continually lament Deb's dominance, her need for control, her inability to let anyone else steer—and totally overlook my own resistance to being controlled.
Deb is the first born: She's been in charge all her life. I'm the middle child: my life has been a fight to be heard and considered equal.
It doesn't matter who steers through the gate. What matters is getting through safely. The point is not to get her to see me as equal but to see myself that way. And let it go.
Let. It. Go.