Had a chance to do a bit of dock fishing with my son recently. He’s getting ready to graduate this week, and then it will be off to college shortly thereafter, so I know that opportunities to throw a line out next to him won’t be coming as often anymore. Such is life, but it really is strange to look at a young man who was once a knee high boy, and marvel at how quickly it all went by.
He recently competed in his last high school golf tournament, and my wife managed to capture an image of him as he walked off the 18th green after shaking hands with the other young men in his group. There was just a hint of melancholy in my son’s eyes. He knew a chapter of his life was ending. But as he strode from that green, I too was gripped by a similar, though perhaps deeper, feeling of remorse.
My wife and I drove him to countless tournaments, and he and I played many more rounds together over the years. Sometimes those rounds were marked by frustration on my part. I pushed my son to push himself, and in doing so, sometimes took the fun of the game away and replaced it with the demands of an overly competitive father who had grown up himself, a product of thinking winning was the only thing that mattered.
There is a balance to be found in all things, and I too often did not remind myself of that. My son is a kinder soul than I, taking after his mother in that regard. I feared the world would push him, and he would not be willing, or able, to push back. I have recently become aware that perhaps, it’s not so much failing to push back, but simply navigating around, and doing so does not make one weaker, but simply different.
And so, there is part of me that wishes I had come to this realization sooner. Parenting is sometimes like a mirror you don’t always wish to hold up to yourself, for fear of what may be staring back. My son is a good, strong young man with a bright future ahead of him. He has grown up always wanting to be more like his dad, but now, I find myself wanting to be more like him. Kinder, more patient, hopeful, and appreciative.
Life seems to teach us the most when we finally take just a little time to listen…