It seems to be a tradition that the titular head of our household (a.k.a.: me) regularly gets taken down a peg or two. I don’t why this seems to be the case, but I sure seem to get my comeuppance on a fairly frequent basis.
On the positive side, though, this allows me - when I think about it - to: (a.) keep my feet planted firmly on the ground and, (b.) maintain an opinion of myself that hovers somewhere around the “nearly normal” level.
Minor aside: I have a wife who helps with this, but that’s a different column.
My most recent “just desserts,” however, came at the hands of my soon-to-be-a-college-graduate daughter who is a card-carrying member in good standing of the “artsy-craftsy” segment of the human race.
In this episode, I was on my way to the rifle range to spend a few hours punching holes in targets. I couldn't find any friends who could go, but my daughter saw where I was headed and asked if she could come with me.
She’s been asking me to take her shooting as she wants to start hunting with me this fall. Seeing as how she passed the Hunter Education course with really good marks, I tend to think she's serious.
“Fine,” I said. “Let me get a rifle for you.”
At the range, we set her target at 100 yards. Then we went over everything regarding the safe handling of a firearm - checking the barrel for obstructions, loading, unloading, safety position on the rifle, aiming, breathing, and muzzle control to name but a few.
I asked her if she was ready to shoot and she wanted to know if the gun would kick much. I told her “Only a bit. You probably won’t even feel it. Why don't I fire the first few rounds to let you get used to the noise.”
My three shots were all in or near the bulls-eye, and she was suitably impressed. Then I told her that it was her turn, adding - a bit unnecessarily it turned out - “Don’t worry about accuracy at first. It takes some getting used to. Just relax, take your time, and concentrate.”
We went through the safety procedures again, and I handed her the rifle. She loaded a round, settled in, took a look into the scope, and fired - much too quickly to my thinking.
I took a look through the spotting scope to see where she’d hit. I kept looking for the bullet hole, but I couldn’t find it so I finally asked her where she’d aimed.
“Right in the middle, Dad.”
I looked back through the scope and started counting holes again. This time, though, I came up with four. The newest hole was, of course, dead through the center of the bulls-eye.
Trying to keep up appearances, I asked her to shoot again. She did. This time her shot was only about a half-inch away from her first.
This round actually missed dead center, but was inside all of the holes I’d put in the target.
Things continued in this vein for a few more shots and she asked how she was doing. By now, one or two other shooters were showing some interest and quite a bit of amusement too. So, I fessed up.
“You’d better start missing a few or Dad won’t live this one down.”
“Never mind. Keep shooting. I’ll take turns with you. ”
We finished firing the ammunition I’d brought and, I’m glad to say, my shooting improved while hers got a little worse - but not by much.
I hate to admit I felt good about that, but I did. I guess it’s a Dad thing.
Still, I have this nagging feeling - way down deep inside - that she may have seen some of the guys smiling at each other, and she may have…
Anyway, on the way home, I asked her if she wanted to go back another day.
“Maybe after I graduate. I was just bored today and wanted to get out of the house for a while.”
Bored. Wanted to get out of the house.
Bottom line: Lesson learned. Ego well and truly under wraps again.