Last night “the boy” had his first scrimmage with the 7th grade basketball team. It also marked the first time in his “career” that I haven’t been sitting on the sideline coaching, instructing and giving whatever wisdom I could offer throughout the game. It should be no surprise that he did just fine. Any wisdom I might have probably isn’t worth much. Plus he’s a great athlete and works hard. Today as I was getting dressed it occurred to me how much last night is a snap shot of life as a parent.

From the time our children are born, we guide them along the learning process. We teach them, “coach” them and raise them up. From the time he could hold a basketball, I have coached him as a player too. But there comes a point in our parenting when we have to release them to the world. There they will find new voices, new influences and new “coaches.”

Maybe I’m a bit sentimental but last night gave me some peace about the release process. It’s not that I think I am a great coach (we’ve covered that I’m anything but) or great parent, but when the release comes, you pray they are getting good council. You pray that the voices that will guide them recognize their gifts and talents like you do. For example “the boy” is a wicked good distance shooter (again, something I am not). You hope he doesn’t get put in a system where all he does is rebound and set screens because he’s tall. You pray that the voices in their life see their gifts and talents and put them in positions to succeed in life too.

One of the most simple yet powerful quotes I’ve heard is that “You’re a father forever.” There won’t be a moment when I’m no longer his father. In life I will assume my seat in the stands and cheer on his victories and defeats. I’ll accept a role of cheerleader and release the control of coach. I’ll trust that the voices that influence him will take the work we’ve done and only enhance and grow it. I’ll trust his wisdom in choosing the right teammates to go to battle with too.

If you’re wondering how he did in his first game, he did just fine. His best moment was an aggressive steal on defense, taking it full court, getting fouled and making the basket between two defenders. This tells me that his new coach has tapped into something because I’ve always coached him to be more aggressive defensively. The new voices in his life are doing just fine. So is he.

Don’t feel too bad either, tonight I am taking Princess 1.0 to THE Ohio State University to play a scrimmage with her travel basketball team at the OSU Woman’s game. It’s been fun coaching her so far. Up until now she’s only been a gymnast so we’re starting from scratch. You’re a father forever and the coaching continues.