Training Wheels

I bought my son a bike for his 4th birthday. A bright blue bike with shiny metal and training wheels – included a bell that he had to have. 

He’s ridden it about a dozen times in the year and a half he’s had it…and I may be exaggerating with that number. It’s probably less than a dozen times – a handful?

The first year, he always opted for his razor or one of the little balance bikes that were too small for him. I didn’t really mind as I knew the ‘real’ bike was a little too big for him. I was just anxious for him to have a ‘real’ bike. One I could teach him to ride.

Fast forward to this spring.

Several weeks ago, he wanted to take the bike out to ride and I run next to him. He always loves going running with me but (unfortunately) is too big for a stroller. So, we headed out with the bike he has so far ridden a handful of times and had a good, short bike/run. A week later as we were driving home from his school he says to me from the backseat “Mom, I want to go ride my bike but I want to take off just one training wheel. Just one okay? Just one.” 

We got home, grabbed the bike, headed down to the trail and took one training wheel off. It took two minutes of him trying to ride, knuckles turning white, and his little body stiff as a board with fear before he told me he didn’t want to do this – he needed both training wheels. 

Fast forward to a week after this outing and again, on the way home, he says to me from the backseat, “Mom, I want to ride my bike without any training wheels. I won’t both of them off okay. Both of them. Not just one. Both of them. Okay Mom? Okay?” 

“Okay buddy” I say to him a little surprised at how adamant he was being that both training wheels be taken off. It wasn’t until yesterday that we really had time after school (and the weather cooperated) for him to get back out there and ride. The sun was out, the weather was nice and as I was talking to a neighbor, he came up to me with his Spider-Man costume in hand and asked me, “Mom, can I put my Spider-Man suit on to ride my bike?” 

“Sure buddy, go put it on and we will head on out to the trail”.

So, we headed out, Spider-Man and his bike with both training wheels still on but being taken off once we hit the trail, riding in front of me – full of spirit and excitement.

At the trail, I could only get one training wheel off and honestly – he pitched a FIT. I started getting angry not wanting this moment to be ruined by a pissy five-year-old and plus, I really thought he needed to practice a bit more with just one training wheel on rather than just throwing the both of them off and riding off into the sunset with a broken arm or leg…

I talked him into trying out just one again and he obliged and as he rode off, he was practicing getting the other wheel off of the ground and as he did so he whooped and hollered and turned around saying “okay Mom – now both of them!!!”

We walked back to the house to get a socket wrench to take the other one off and as we were walking I had this conversation going on in my head ‘I don’t want him to get discouraged and does he really know what this means and can he really do it and what if he falls, okay, I have my cell phone shit its almost out of batteries and crap he’s only ridden this damn thing like five times and he doesn’t want the training wheels on – why the hell did i pay for the training wheels…’

The socket wrench was found. The lone training wheel came off and Spider-Man and I headed back downy to the trail where there was nice soft grass and no thousand pound moving vehicles to worry about…

We were in the middle of the path. Spider-Man on his bike. My right hand holding onto the seat, my left the handle bars. Both of his feet were on the pedals ready to go. “Okay buddy. You ready? Now just remember, balance with your butt. Relax your arms and just pedal fast and try going straight. I’ll push you off and be right here beside you.” 

“Okay Mom. I’m ready. Let’s go.” 

A slow jog started, my hands still clutched to the bike. I let go of the handle bars and picked up my pace to keep up with his pedaling and within seconds….

“okay Mom you can let go now”

And he was off. 

No falling. No broken arms. No broken legs. Just a little boy in his Spider-Man costume full of determination and belief in himself – riding ahead of me whooping and hollering “woooohoooo – I’m doing it Mom, I’m doing it!”

Behind him, I’m crying and jumping up and down with my arms raised and screaming “YOUR DOING IT YOUR DOING IT KEEP GOING KEEP GOING BABY”!!!!

I remember a moment about five years ago. Doug was sitting on the sofa and Lido was playing on the floor and Doug said “I just had this great thought. I just can’t wait until I teach him to ride a bike. That moment is going to be awesome. Just awesome.”

Yesterday, as I held onto his bike, the seconds before I let go, I just kept thinking of that moment – five years ago when his Dad was looking forward to this moment. The very moment I found myself in. 

It is the moments like these that take my breath away and I find myself walking both within the moment and outside of it. Taking in everything little thing that was going on, burning the sound of his whooping and hollering into my brain, the excitement, the smiles – everything – while grieving the loss of this moment for his Dad. 

I was taught a lesson yesterday. With the changes that are taking place in our life and embarking on new chapters – sometimes its best to just throw both training wheels off and go for it. I feel that I’ve been walking slowly but steadily forward, training wheels still on, fears still there but not letting them get too close to the surface to mess with my plans. After yesterday though, seeing my son make this decision, knowing he had been thinking about this for weeks, dreaming about it, running it all through his head, practicing in his mind – and then literally just going out there and doing it – well – I’m throwing the training wheels off too. 

It was a great reminder to live boldly. Live fiercely. 

…and wearing a Spider-Man costume while doing it, isn’t such a bad idea.


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