He Learns to Ride His Bike: I Learn to Let Go
Brace yourself for an avalanche of cliches. And one grainy iPhone pic.
My freshly-minted, five-this-summer, clever and bold son learned to ride his bike this week.
We were talking on Saturday and I said, “You want to ride your bike without training wheels? I think you’re ready.” His response? “Let’s do this thing!” Can you tell he listens near daily to Twins Sports Talk on the radio? He occasionally demonstrates a broadcaster voice subconsciously. This was one of those times.
AA pealed off the training wheels and the gaggle of us five struggled and strutted down the driveway.
I kept saying things in a low, confident voice like Balance equal weight on both feet and handle bars or a random where you look is where you go or to my husband DO NOT LET GO OF THE BACK OF HIS SEAT!!!!!
My husband, on the other handlebar (hardy har har), was all easy confidence. He succeeded in hushing me up a bit and swatting away my overly protective handy-hands that wanted to dive in and grab the wheels. He walked behind him holding the back of the seat for a while, uttered a few guy-tone phrases (AKA mama couldn’t decipher from this distance), and before you know it, SuperBoy was flying.
Fledgling birds got nothing on their mamas’ hearts like my son had on mine in that moment. I actually choked because I inhaled so sharply. The baby was on my back and I nearly smashed his chin into my shoulder blades when my whole-body-breath happened.
Now he lapped around a dozen times today alone. He’s a bike rider. He’s fine. He’s smiling. He’s exhaling. He’s licking up the feel of wind on his summered face. He’s a big boy.
It took me until I was ten (10) ten years old to ride my bike. First my eldest sister for a few summers would half-heartedly hold the back of my seat while I cried up and down the driveway. Then my dad took over at some point and perhaps his confidence was contagious enough that I truly believed I could do it through the salty tears of prolonged todderhood, the girl who couldn’t go with up to Walgreens or Grand Ole Creamery because her walking took too long.
Somewhere inside over the weekend, watching my son master this new skill, fly away from my steadying hand, I hugged my 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year old self who wouldn’t//couldn’t ride her bike. I let go of my little wound of being left out in that singular way. I let go of keeping him safe (one lightly scraped knee so far!) and windfree and experienceless (build a moat! stay in the house forever! my secret mantras!).
He taught me. I taught him. This is what they meant when they said the full-circle of parenting.