Just this week I took my oldest daughter to the park to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time. This is an exciting, yet nerve racking moment. Chloe is so excited to graduate to her big girl bike. She is ready to conquer the world on one hand. But on the other hand she isn’t ready for Dad to not be by her side as she learns something new.
On my side, I am excited for my little girl, ready to see her learn how to finally ride this bike on her own. As we spent time on the bike, we began to learn the basics. I showed her how to get on the bike. The importance of her balance when on the bike. The importance of holding on, learning how to pedal, etc.
Even after all this Chloe doesn’t know that I’ve never taught anyone to ride a bike before. I mean, I know how to ride a bike myself. I have seen videos on tv where parents have taught kids. Though I don’t recall when my parents taught me. I know they did teach me, but I just don’t remember what that process was like.
So as a parent, I’m learning what they learned when they taught me.
So as we spent more time learning, I got out of breath as I held on to the bike, running beside her in an effort to keep up. She got a little confident and was able to ride a few feet on her own. But she wasn’t ready for me to let go, and honestly I don’t think I was ready to let go yet either.
I know we will soon get to a place where she can pedal on her own and I won’t have to chase behind her holding onto the bike to keep her from falling. Part of this is going to be based on her confidence and readiness for me to let go, but the other is going to be my confidence and willingness to let go. But inside of me, the reality is that I want to hold on as long as possible. I mean I know she can do it, but what if she falls off the bike.
When do I let go?
At the end of our efforts the other day, I was absolutely more exhausted than I think she was. I mean chasing after her trying to hold the bike up was hard work all in my effort to keep her from falling.
In the next few days, we will head back out to the park again. I will continue to run beside her for a little bit longer. But eventually I am going to have to, as a parent, cope with the fact that I can only hold the bike up for so long. Soon she’s going to have to pedal on her own and learn balance. That learning might come at the cost of a few bumps and bruises. I can only run behind for so long, eventually I’ll run out of energy and holding on forever will hinder her ability to learn to do this.