I went to my first school football game the other day. I took Suzie to see a couple of her friends who were cheerleaders.
Kenzo sat in the bleachers with some friends. Just after we arrived she and a couple of friends went flying by me headed to the bleachers with a poster and red and black streaks painted on their faces.
And my first thought was, "where did she get that paint?" And I realized that I had no idea where she got the paint, and moreover, there were an increasing number of things in her life that I had nothing to do with.
As life gets faster and more complicated for them, it would be easy to lay back a bit and give them their space. I see all sorts of reminders that kids need their "space." And there are certainly times (like at the football game when Kenzo was screaming for her team with her friends) for me to be invisible. But in many things, I am not sure that hanging back and giving them "space" is always the best approach.
We had a special night at church a few weeks ago when the girls "moved" from the children’s department to the "middle school" area. And in the midst of that celebration, our pastor reminded us that this was a time to "lean in," not just hang back.
I think he is right.
Space is important, but life just shifted into hyper drive, and I think that I do need to make sure I do plenty of "leaning in."
I know that my job as a dad is not done, just that my job requirement requires "leaning in" to a middle schooler. It’s just that I don’t know what that means or looks like.