We hit a milestone yesterday!
Thomas has been riding his bike with training wheels for the past year or so. Using his wishes as guidance, we've tried adjusting his training wheels and even taking his training wheels off a couple of times over the past few months to allow him to learn how to ride, and each time he has gotten frustrated and wanted them back on. I had resigned myself to the expectation that one of his uncles or a friend of mine was going to have to teach him how to ride his bicycle.
That is, until yesterday.
Thomas's school, Providence Christian Academy, had basically a "play day" for the preschoolers where everybody brought their bikes to school and rode around in the parking lot. I watched Thomas as he rode his own bike for a few minutes, and watched him as he looked at the other kids, some of whom were still using training wheels and some of whom were not.
One of his friends (named Josh) was not using his bike at the time. I watched my son get on his friend's bike and start to ride. This bike was the exact same model as Thomas's -- a Huffy, probably purchased at Wal-Mart like Thomas's -- but this one didn't have training wheels on it. I watched my son start to pedal that bike, wobbly at first, but quickly gaining momentum. My eyes filled with tears as I watched him take off on that bike and begin to ride it with no problems whatsoever.
I turned to one of the dads who was there watching his daughter and told him, "The training wheels are coming off!" I grabbed a wrench from my father-in-law who came to watch as well, and quickly took the training wheels off Thomas's bike.
I called out encouragement to Thomas. I ran after him, trying to video him using Sarah's cellphone (mine had died). He knocked into someone and fell off, and his friend Josh came over and reclaimed his bike. I asked Thomas if he wanted to ride his own bike now. He didn't. "I fell off mine," he reminded me, as if to say his own bike was tainted with failure. "I want one like Josh's."
I knelt down and had Thomas look me in the eyes. "Thomas," I said, "Your bike is the same as his."
Sometimes my son doesn't believe me when I tell him things like this. This time, he did.
His eyes got as big as saucers. He stepped over to his own bike, hopped on, and began to pedal away just like he did with Josh's. "It is like his!" he shouted. "I can balance it!"
Something snapped in my son's mind that day. Something switched in his heart. And many changes keep happening in my own heart, too, as I engage my family and watch them grow. I can't help but think if I had pestered Thomas about riding his bike and tried to get him to do it on my terms, in my timing, I would have missed watching him jump on a bike and learn to ride it without his dad's help. I'm so glad I didn't miss that.
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