Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Son Still Needs Me to Catch Him.

Do you remember how television and movies represent the signature, father-son moments? Can you picture the grainy video of the father running down the street next to his son on his bike? The son is wobbling, unsure of himself, but peddling furiously. The dad is smiling, cheering his son forward. I recently experienced that moment.

As I was doing some work in the garage, my son brought me his bike with a flat tire. Excited to show off my mechanical abilities (How can you screw up a child’s bike with training wheels?) to my four year old son, I leapt at the opportunity to fix his tire. Unfortunately, as is customary in any mechanical project I take on; it was more difficult than it initially appeared. By the time I figured that out, I had bike parts spread out across most of our driveway. My ego would never allow me to take this little bike to my local shop in pieces, so I had two options: 1. continue on and hope that the stars would align in a manner that would allow me, by some miracle, to fix this flat tire; or 2. buy him a new bike. After careful consideration standing over the dismantled bike, I decided buying him a new bike because he had a flat was simply ridiculous, so I decided to press on (although I quickly checked the balance in the savings account in case I simply could not complete the task).

Ultimately, I did not have to make a trip to the bike shop for repairs (or to buy a replacement bike) as I was able to fix the flat. However, before I put the training wheels back on the bike, I paused. My son has become quite skilled in handling the bike with training wheels (as evidenced by the multiple skid marks on the driveway) so I thought, could he be ready for his proverbial step toward manhood – the removal of the training wheels? So, I decided to take him out on the driveway to give it a try (because if I successfully put those training wheels back on the bike, there was no way I was taking them off for awhile).

It’s funny how the most memorable moments in life are often a surprise with no planning or preparation. One moment I am bumbling my way through a minor project and the next thing I know I am standing at the end of the driveway, holding my son’s bike seat as he is about to try riding a bike for the first time. These moments come and go so fast, you wish you could rewind and do it all over again and again.

As you might guess, the next thing I knew, I was running down the driveway yelling, “Pedal! Pedal!” There was a big smile on my son’s face as he realized he was doing it when I pulled my hand off the seat and he began riding alone, all by himself, no help from daddy. At that moment, so many things flashed through my mind. His childhood is going so fast. Soon he’ll be going to school, going to middle school, getting a drivers license, going to college, and having a family.

But before all of that, he begins to wobble and I catch him before he falls off the bike. He turns to me with a big smile on his face and says, “Daddy, can we put the training wheels back on?” I smile, putting the visions of graduation parties and wedding receptions on hold, because my son still needs me to catch him.

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