Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tanner Rides a Bike

Yesterday the Second in Command learned to ride his new bike.

I had bought it for him a week ago, because in a flash of insight I realized that he wasn't learning to ride the one he had because it was icky. It was old and rusty and the tires were flat, and I began taking it apart with intent to repair and then hit my fit of pique and rushed out and bought him a new, smaller, one.

And the next day I had offered to help him learn to ride it, and he had confided in me that he really didn't want to learn. There was a look of five-year-old fear, a look I'm not sure I've seen in him before. I asked if he was scared of getting hurt, and he whimpered, "Yes". So I called in the Heir Apparent to testify to the joy of riding a bike despite bumps and bruises. "I would probably do it all over again", he said bravely in his worldly 7-year-old way.

So I asked a friend who has great insight into Tanner's nature and he said, "Of course he doesn't want to ride it. Because he's analytical like I am, and there is no obvious way the bike stays up." Ah. Well, I can't fix this. I can fix old bikes or buy new ones, I can hold and push and provide emotional support, but physics and gravity are beyond my purview. Inveterate analytical that he is, I would simply need to leave him to struggle with the tradeoffs.

Yesterday he was fueled by joy, riding his bike, wobbling down the sidewalk, all by himself. He fell a few times, and bumped an elbow once. I got the first ride on video. Life is good.

I was there to see it.

And that was part of the decision I made over fifteen months ago. And somehow, being there to help him and see his first bike ride makes it worthwhile. At least for now. For now, this is where I need to be.

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