As some of you will know, my two boys place hockey. Not of the field type, but on ice and on courts (roller). They love it and are doing really well at it.
Our eldest son started at secondary school this term and as part of that process, my wife and I needed to let go a little more. We needed to let him find his own way to school (once we had shown him how to get there, by the way). We needed to let him decide on his own after-school clubs. His own dinners. His own time-planning for being somewhere at the right time. All of it involved letting go just a little bit more.
I have recently been asked to sit in on a couple of meetings with his hockey coaches. He has one for ice, and one for roller. Both of the conversations were really encouraging. I was proud of what they had to say and of my son's response. But as I sat their in silence, I felt like I was letting go a little bit more.... again. As a Dad, I chat with my kids all of the time, particularly about things on their heart, and there he was talking to someone else about how he felt.
As the coaches inputted into him and gave him advice, I found myself thinking, "Hang on, I should be saying those things, not them". I then had to check myself (excuse the pun for any hockey friends). This was about letting go. This was about dropping my pride.
There are people now inputting him him who know far more about a given subject matter than I do. He is learning from them and applying what they say. Sometimes, I will see them chatting with him and giving him instructions which he then discusses with them and applies. When I ask him what was said, he just says "Nothing. It's not important".
And he's right.... it's not. Why is it important to me? I know a bit about hockey, but not as much as he does. What is important is that I let go. Slowly but surely, carefully and with sensitivity. But that doesn't mean I lose him. Far from it. It means I get a son in whom I am proud and with whom I am 'well pleased'.
If I let go I get something better back. I love him and will always be there for him (and my other son), but as he grows older and becomes his own man, I have to trust that he makes the right choices. I have to trust that he listens to his coaches, whether in sport or life, and applies what they have said.
I have to learn to let go.