This past Christmas, Santa brought my kids something I’d been waiting for for a long time.
Henry, 2, got his first Big Wheel, complete with a big old push-handle for dad to help scoot him around. And Violet, 4, got her first balance bike so she can learn the ropes of doing it herself.
And now that the sun has finally shown up in our neck of the woods, the time has come for us to venture out in the church parking lot down the road and start learning to ride!
As a parent, teaching my kids to be able to ride a bike is probably one of the things I have been most looking forward too AND dreading at the same time. I love bikes and some of the most powerful lingering memories I have from my own childhood are the ones when I recall the feeling of sweet summer evening air blowing through my bowl cut as I pedaled my Mongoose faster and faster up and down the streets around my neighborhood.
Riding a bike is a rite of passage for every kid and I feel bad for any child anywhere who can’t experience that for whatever reason.
Still, as a parent now, I somewhat dread the nerve-wracking grip I’m bound to have on my daughter’s shoulder and her handlebars as i try and steer her toward a kind of physical and soulful independence she has never really had before. Being able to ride a bike on your own is a huge step toward growing up, huh? And, of course, as much as I want my kids to be able to do that, I also understand that it is symbolic of the fact that they are moving away from me, even as I teach them stuff.
I can’t wait though. I cannot wait until the moment, after all of the tears and scraped elbows have faded away, when I let go of each of my kids and they pedal their little legs so hard in a herky jerky line down the road all by themselves.
I just cannot wait.
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First Bike 2 of 20
It usually starts with a Christmas gift or a birthday gift...the first bike. All shiny and colorful, kids simply cannot wait to get it outside.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/26913594@N07
All You Need 3 of 20
All you need to get started learning to ride a bike these days is a bicycle, a helmet, and a big old smile.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/dmatos
Nervous Daddy 4 of 20
You would think that the new bike rider would be the more nervous of the two when it comes to the teacher and the pupil. But you would probably be wrong.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/sahdblunders
The Good… 5 of 20
Every parent has their own vision of how they really hope these bike riding lessons will go.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/dottiemae
The Bad… 6 of 20
Sometimes balance is fleeting for young riders-to-be. It's only natural, really. What goes up come down.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/fearless_craig
…And the Ugly 7 of 20
It hurts our hearts to watch our son or daughter hit the deck, but we know it has to happen at some point. And we know that they'll be okay.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/majorvols
Climb Back Up 8 of 20
Even though there might be some tears shed along the way to biking glory, kids are usually so cool about their spills. They climb back up on the horse ready to do it all again. I suspect that it's us moms and dads who feel the falls the most.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/majorvols
Moment of Truth 9 of 20
Before long, we're going to find ourselves letting go completely. It's such a nerve-racking move; I honestly don't know how I'm going to be able to do it. But I will.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/lorda
Get Ready! 10 of 20
First, we hold them safe and tight. But then, we loosen our grip.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/neontommy
Get Set! 11 of 20
We loosened our grip on the seat or their arm and we take in a very deep gasp of air!
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/eyeliam
GO! 12 of 20
We do it! We set them free! And away they go...
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/4merbx
Side Car 13 of 20
Then, of course, we race to catch up, jogging beside them 'just in case'. But they don't even see us anymore. They are free.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/bobnrenee
Just Watch 14 of 20
Sooner or later, though, we know we have to stand back and let them do their thing. So we stand back and just watch, prouder than we ever thought possible.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/mujitra
Hungry Eyes 15 of 20
Once they're up and running, the look of determination on our child's face as they pedal right by us without even a nod or a wave is such an awesome thing.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo
Our Little Big Kid 16 of 20
As much as parents sometimes get a little jittery about the future for our kiddos, they usually prove to us that they've got things under control.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/cookiecrumbkids
Part of the Gang 17 of 20
And just like that, just like we did when we were their age long ago: our own sons and daughters join the local bicycle gang. Summer will never be the same.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/sarahrosenau
Anything is Possible 18 of 20
Once our kids start messing around on a bike, it suddenly dawns on us that anything is possible for them in this world.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/softestthing
Bikes 19 of 20
Bikes need kids to ride them until their wheels fall off. And once mom or dad teaches them to stay up and pedal, kids will happily oblige. It's such a cool relationship that can last a lifetime.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/fernando
Ride On, Rider 20 of 20
So ride on, rider. You've earned your stripes and there are a million miles of possibility out there just waiting for you.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/draxus
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