If I had to come up with my own metaphor, the pace car would not have been in my realm of thinking. It was, however, for my son. He told me the other day that I should call his brother the pace car. Having no idea what he was talking about I asked him why. He responded that his brother always wants everyone to follow him and that is what a pace car does. He hit the nail on the head with that one!
I was truly amazed by his insight and a bit concerned that his brother might find this insulting. We explored the topic a bit more and I realized this was the perfect metaphor for helping his brother to recognize a positive way to use his leadership skills. We noted that pace cars get everyone started and then move to the side so they can take responsibility for themselves. When someone is injured or in danger, the pace car comes back out to provide support. Then again, it moves to the side allowing the race to resume.
Later, I discussed this with big brother and he loved the idea. He felt it fit him and was thoughtful about the way a pace car allows the race to happen without having to manage everything. He happened to attend a birthday party yesterday and made sure to bring home a treat for each of us that was specific to who we are. When I noted that this was very thoughtful, he said, "That's what a pace car would do, wouldn't it?" I am hopeful this insightful metaphor will give him a more concrete image to hold onto as he navigates the ins and outs of his social world.
As I think about it more, parenting is much like being a pace car as well. Knowing when to lead and when to get out of the way is not always easy. Knowing we need to helps us to keep it in mind and hopefully recognize those revving engines signaling our time to pull aside.