A bike, a boy, and a heart-calendar
“I took off his training wheels,” my husband, Anthony, said from the other end of the phone line. “He’s doing great!”
He kept talking, but I didn’t track what he was saying. My work desk and computer fell away as I pictured the tiny baby my heart told me I just brought home sometime around yesterday.
I thought, stricken, how I wished I’d been there for my baby’s first wobbly training wheel-less jaunts. How it wasn’t time yet. He just learned to walk last week! Didn’t he?
The moment we saw each other after I got home from work, Li’l D’s experiences riding his bike like a big boy tumbled out his mouth in an almost coherent rush. Their core was: Could I watch him ride? Could I, could I?
We took a walk around the block. He did great! Stopping was a little awkward for him, but that was nothing I knew a few more hours on the bike wouldn’t cure.
As I watched him from behind, I thought about the day I first learned to ride my own bike without training wheels when I was six years old. The bike was a little blue Schwinn; my teacher, a fifth grade neighbor, Jennifer, who helped me get my balance on flat land before walking me up the small hill between our Monterrey homes and letting me sail.
I was terrified. I was exhilarated. I was free!
Li’l D’s smile told me he felt just the same.
Tomorrow, Li’l D will start second grade.
(This is so weird, since first grade just started, like, an hour ago.)
He read and checked off his school supply list with each item we found at the store yesterday. I overflowed with pride as I watched him work his way down the list, seeing how much he’s learned since last year–when I read the supply list to him–and, before that, since I took him home from the hospital not quite seven years ago.
Look at him go! I thought. How fantastic! How … heartbreaking, how fast it all goes.
We bought him a new helmet, too. He’s been using the same one for four years.
As I adjusted the straps on his new helmet, I fought back tears.*
“It fits just right!” he exclaimed.
“It sure does,” I said.
He wore it out of the store, never mind that he wasn’t anywhere near his bicycle.
I smiled. Still my little boy, after all.
I choked back tears his first day of preschool, too.
big little wonderful boy walking around in his bike helmet, I was uplifted remembering what I’d written then and adapting it to now. To my second grader.
He is not
walking biking away from me,
but toward who he is meant to be.
* The tears won when I talked to a store manager about how lovely
Erica, the employee working the school supply area, had been.
Erica has two little boys of her own. Someday soon,
she’ll learn how lovely it is to watch them
take ever bigger steps onward and
know, through it all,