As my youngest son approached five years old, the pressure increased for him to learn to ride his bike. All the other kids his age had already “gotten it” and were flying around the streets of our neighborhood. The pressure was beginning to build, the immense burden of not knowing how to ride a bike was upon us. But it wasn’t my little Grant that was feeling the pressure, it was me, his Father. What would other parents think of my severally motor-skill challenged off-spring? Was I not a good Dad? Have I not spent enough time with him? I am such a bad parent.
Flash back to about six years ago when my oldest son was also approaching five. Bryson was a little behind in this department. So one fine day, I stripped off the training wheels, told him today was the day he was going to learn to ride and off we went. I was armed with the philosophy of “if we throw him in the deep end, he’s gonna have to learn how to swim”.
Well after about 20 minutes of falling, crying, bleeding and my obviously dangerous psychological philosophy, we came back into the house. Bryson went up into his room crying and I, feeling much the failure, said that my son obviously inherited his mother’s athletic ability and stomped away to other important projects.
Bryson eventually learned to ride his bike but the experience was one that I dared not to repeat.
Now, fast forward to the past few months. The bike in question still remains as a hand me down and has not had the training wheels on it for quite some time. About two months ago, Grant and I went out and I pushed him around on it, but he said he was scared and I just told him it would be OK. We spent about fifteen minutes running up and down the street. I, being in such superb physical condition, could have endured an entire night of this joyous activity, but Grant grew tired so we stopped. I asked him if he wanted to try another day and he said, “Sure” and off he went to fight spiders or other ominous bug-like creatures around our house.
The bike subject did not come up again for the past two or three months.
Then, two days ago, Grant came into the garage and announced, “Dad, I want to ride my bike. Can you help me?” Well, having trashed my philosophy of several years ago, I told him, “Sure, let’s give it another try”. We went outside and proceeded to go up and down the block, me running alongside him every inch of the way. First I had my hand on his seat, then I moved it up his back, gently holding his shirt and finally I would let go every few seconds…until eventually he was on his own.
No screaming, no bleeding, no crying, no whining….from him or from me. Just encouragement, a gentle hand, steadying him as he went.
And, before you know it, there he goes!
Next stop college….and then I’ll get the bill and you’ll hear lots of crying.