I learned to ride a bike when I was very young. I don’t remember my dad or my mom showing me, although I’m sure they did. I remember teaching myself and my uncle Raymond helping me. I remember him pushing me to go and him telling me or encouraging me to fall. And while this idea scared my son, it worked for me. I fell hella times and I learned. I fell off the bike, I got back up. My son is now 8; got his first bike at the age of 3 or 4 and was never really interested in riding it that much. He really liked a scooter when he got to kinder-garden but was unimpressed by the bicycle at 5. And when I tried to take the training wheels off, forget it! He was adamant about leaving them to say the least. I also kind of told him to just fall first and get it over with. I said “you’re going to do a whole lot of falling so just do it now and get over any fear of it”. That didn’t work.
Fast forward three years later. I think I might have scared him just a little. Although I was a Bmx fanatic at the age of 7 or 8, I did not pressure him anymore about riding. I just thought “you’ll pick it up with some kids you want to ride with” someday. Low and behold, his Mami takes him to hang with his friends (Sister 6yrs /brother 5 yrs) and he learns in a day. No more awkward balancing. No more excuses or strange stares at the mention of riding bikes. Before I saw the video of the first ride he proudly shared the news with me when we got home to grandma’s house. I took out his old bike (which is very small for him now), took off the training wheels, and he took off.
There I was, in the midst of the day to day grind, thinking I knew what it meant to be a parent and to “see” my son; and I was blown away with amazement and pride again. It was like seeing that first step, feeling the first tooth, or watching him pull himself up. We must of rode for 20 or 30 minutes. It was great. I realized once again how strong his character is because I just gave him space when he asked for it. He came to the bike (which is really a metaphor for anything) when he was “ready”.
A week or so later we’re riding again. Racing up and down the hill on grandmas block. He’s triumphantly beat me down the hill several times already. But on a race with me, him, and Grandpa Gary he looses his handle. And bam, his first crash! Scraped up pretty good, but not life threatening he roars screaming in pure terror. This scrape, that burn, the feeling is brand new and it hurts. I quickly put on my Doctor voice picking him up and taking him to clean the wounds as he screams more. Amidst creams and pleading with me not to clean it with any disinfectants. After throwing his hands up, he tells me several times that he doesn’t want to die and I finally clean the wounds. Lord, I tried not to laugh. He’s a cancer, very very dramatic child. He then limps into the living room.
Two hours later he tells me he’s ready to get back on the bike. My smile inside, a sense of fatherly pride was so big I wanted to cry. At bedtime I told him as I put the covers on him how proud of him I was that he fell. And that he got back up.