Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Let Go and Enjoy the Ride

Teaching a child to ride a bike is a good metaphor for fatherhood.

Right now Big Brother has figured out how to really pedal that Thomas the Train bike with training wheels on his own.

It seems like just yesterday every 10 seconds on the bike he needed another push to get started. Now he just takes off and goes.

On the other hand, putting on the brakes and remembering to look forward (so you don’t veer into the middle of the road) are two things we’re still working on mastering.

Watching him ride that bike stirs in me a swarm of emotions.

Bittersweet sadness, that he’s too big for us to push him in his ride-in toy car or tricycle.

Pride, that he’s growing and developing well. I can help but cheer for him, “Wow, that’s great. You can ride a bike by yourself. You’re such a big boy.”

Excitement, that someday not so far from now, we’ll be ready to take those training wheels off and learn how to ride a bike with two wheels.

Fear, that he’s going to crash the bike because he forgets to brake, and needs a SECOND head CT.

The past few nights, we’ve enjoyed riding bikes after dinner.

It really hit me how riding a bike is like fatherhood.

I want the best for my boys. We try to give Big Brother all the tools he needs to ride: a bike, helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, practice time, guidance, praise, and gentle reminders (with a few loud pleas to “brake” and “stay close to the curb.”)

All of those things are necessary and important, but at some point you just have to “let go” and let him figure it out on his own. He has to learn by doing.

We cheer like mad when he does well.

And we offer comfort and encouragement when he crashes. And I’m sure there will be a crash at some point (so long as it only involves scrapes and not head CTs)

So goes life.

We try to provide/instill in our children all of the “tools” they’ll need to succeed. Family. Unconditional love. Commitment. Work ethic. Self-esteem. Honesty. Morality. Faith. Education.

And then at some point it’s up to them to take what we’ve given them and “figure it out on their own.”

Of course, we’ll always be right there for them, through the highs and lows.

And even though Big Brother is only 4 and we’re only talking about riding bikes for now, I know there are bigger things lurking just around the corner.

Fortunately, just like learning to ride a bike, learning to “let go” as a father, to let my each of my children live and become their own person is also a gradual process. And like riding a bike, it’s a process filled with sadness and pride and excitement and fear.

It’s an amazing process. Enjoy the ride.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,


  1. Well said!I think about this kind of thing even with our new baby. Aunt-E