I held on tight, praying that disaster would not strike. “You might have this one chance to get it right,” I told myself. I said a prayer, and hoped he would not fall. One injury could end this now. Who knows when he would get enough courage to try again? It had been more than eighteen months since the last attempt. There was no choice but to succeed.
I held my breath, looked at my seven-year old’s expectant face, “Try not to think about it, feel it inside and trust that,” I said.
He hesitated, thought, and said, “Ok. I can do this.”
“You can do this.”
I held onto his seat, and one handlebar, he slowly started to peddle. He peddled faster and faster, I let go of the handlebar. Soon, I let go of his seat, and for 5 seconds he rode his bike on two wheels alone! My son, who had little confidence in his balance, fear of crashing, let go of his fears, and for an afternoon trusted God and trusted me. We rode up and down the street for another half an hour and then took a break.
Before the second lesson of the day, I remembered the day he begged Scott to take off his training wheels. Scott did and proceeded to give McCartney his first bike riding lesson. Less than ten minutes later, Scott stomped up the driveway, with a tearful 6-year-old trailing behind him. “He won’t go fast enough. He’s too scared,” Scott reported. McCartney put his bike in the garage where it sat for over a year.
My son grew, and the bike stayed the same. He is too old for Cars and the helmet, but we refused to buy another that would just sit in the garage. Another summer went by, and it stayed parked in the same spot, never to be moved. Scott and I were disappointed, but we let it be. Our kids are not ready, so we took the easy way out. We didn’t press it, we just let the time pass. His friends, younger cousins, and so many around him learned, but he had no interest.
“Maybe he won’t ever want to learn.”
“He has to learn to trust first. He can’t be afraid of pain.”
Yesterday, I looked out the window, and I saw my son, with his bike and a new look of determination. I went outside, “Tomorrow, I will work with you on riding your bike.”
“Ok. I really want to learn!”
Our second lesson of the day, began hours after the first. It was time to make dinner, dishes in the sink, laundry in the drier, but my son, said, “Will you please give me another lesson?”
“I need 5 minutes,” I said.
He sat on the couch and waited patiently. At the stroke of 5 minutes, he said, “It’s been 5 minutes, will you teach me now?”
“Sure, let’s go.” We headed outside. He quickly put on his helmet, and we coasted down the driveway. “Remember, try not to think, listen to your body. You can do this,” I coached.
Within a few short minutes, I was running along side of the bike, with one finger on the seat. “At some point, I will let go. I won’t tell you, you have to have faith, you can do this,” I told my son.
“Ok,” he said with a look of uncertainty.
We went a few more rounds, and I barely held on more and more. I had a moment of fear. “If I let go and he falls, then will be trust me again?” Earning my son’s trust for this event, was a big deal, I did not want to lose it. I quickly said a prayer, and as he gained speed, I let go and he went alone, the length of two yards.
“You did it! You rode alone!” I exclaimed.
“I rode my bike by myself? I did?” He yelled.
“Yes, you did! I am so proud of you and your hard work!”
“Remember, you can do this. There isn’t anything you haven’t done alone. I know you can do it.”
The next thing I knew, he was riding up and down the block, alone. I watched and photographed, because that is what I do when my kids don’t need me any more. I document and revel at what amazing people they are.
We loaded up the bike, and drove to the lake. My son quickly hopped on his bike, that is too small and too young for him, and circled the lake, independent and alone. Three point two miles later, he said, “I am really good at riding my bike.” And he is. He can start, stop, coast, and use his break like an old pro. Scott and I are happy and proud.
Right before bed, he said, “I think God helped me learn how to ride my bike tonight.”
“Yes, Buddy, He did. We never do anything alone. God gave me patience, and you determination. Between the three of us, you learned how to ride your bike. I am so proud of your hard work.”
If only we could always let kids learn when they are ready. When it’s time for a child to take the risk to learn, it happens naturally. Grandma was right, “When a pumpkin is ripe it will fall from the vine.”