Recent events have reminded me that there come times in every dad's life when it is time to step back, let go, and watch your kid go unassisted and adventure in the world. Mercifully, it starts with little things like the first day of school (I know, it doesn't feel little at the time), letting go of the back of the bike seat and handle bars to see if your kid has learned "bike balance" yet, watching your child pitch in a ball game, and on and on.
It builds up to much bigger events. When those events come, dad, your job is much like that of a minister. You are to be a calming presence. You are to be a person who can offer assurance if approached. You are a smiling face in the crowd, supporting the heck out of your kid with teary eyes while letting go.
Letting go. Such a short and simple phrase. Such a great big challenge for every dad. After all, fixing things is in our dadly DNA. But, if parenting has been done right, you've given your kid a big, shiny tool box filled with the social and educational tools they'll need to fix things for themselves in the world ... and you have to look elsewhere for your next fix it up project.
For me, there have been a number of letting go moments in recent months. Letting go is accompanied by the "Oh Lord, my child is all grown up!" realization. The two are a powerful, jaw-dropping combination. Our daughter over the summer had a major, named role in a teen show at the local community theater. Knowing as little as I do about the actor's craft ... I'm a ham ... I had to let go and just enjoy the ride. Wow, has she grown up ... and so good. But I digress ... and brag shamelessly.
A couple of weeks ago, I officiated my son's wedding to his wonderful wife. Talk about your letting go and enjoying the ride moment ... and having to walk and talk all at the same time. Phew!!! There's a real letting go and sitting back challenge. But it's also a thrill.
Today, our daughter goes in for her driver's exam ... just the written test for the learner's permit, but still. Part of letting go is knowing when to keep your mouth shut. This is one of those moments. There's nothing I can say right here, right now that will do anything but create trouble in an already tense situation. I'll be there to rejoice or console afterwards ... and she knows that. I've done all I can. I letting her go to do what she has to do alone. I wish her well. I'm here for support. But, once again, I have to let one of my kid's fly solo.
It's tough. But, it needs to be done. It's all part of growing up ... a dad's growing up.
Good luck, kids. We dads (and your moms) love you. We're here for you if and when you need us. Now go!