How To Start A Car With 3 Year Old Gas Training Wheels and Training Dad – How Our Four-Year-Old Taught Me to Let Go

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Training Wheels and Training Dad – How Our Four-Year-Old Taught Me to Let Go

I expected our son to fail, at least first. It’s in the script, right? Like a sparrow spreading its wings for the first time, there is a protocol to these things and I knew my part. So on May Day this year, when pink cherry blossoms fell on the street in front of our Vancouver condo, I invited our four-year-old son Jonah on stage and prepared for the seven-step process , as I read it anyway –

1) Expect the fear. Riding a bicycle without training wheels is a leap in the child’s development. It may raise a few goose bumps, so be gentle, be patient, remember your first time. Give the “If-I-can-do-it-you-can-too” pep talk as you remove the extra wheels from the bike.

2) Take the bike, the bandages and the child outside to a level road, park, or schoolyard. All the while, keep the sound of parents biting and patting themselves on the back. Most of all, your child needs encouragement and reassurance.

3) Place your child on the bicycle saddle. While holding the back of the seat, invite him to put his feet on the pedals and balance. Breathe deeply, center, use positive visualization (did you do these things; it’s a big step for you too).

4) Start your engines! Hold the saddle and run alongside your child while pedaling until –

a) Your child is ready to fly alone.

b) You ran out of gas from your propensity for cream milks.

5) Save your child. Assuming you don’t fall into profile 4b), run towards your daredevil who is probably groaning in a muddle of wheels, limbs and tears.

6) Console, nurse, tell your child about the first flight attempts of the Wright brothers. Whatever it takes, get him or her back on the bike. He coaxed the words “I can do it” from his trembling lips.

7) Repeat steps 3-6 as needed, until confidence in can-do overcomes your child’s faltering world, and their newfound freedom sails them over the horizon, never to return (in reality, this is on the road when you give him the car keys). for the first time).

8) Ignore steps 1-7 if your child says they don’t need your help.

Whoa. Where does the number 8 come from? I wish I had read it, because when Jonah said – scram Dad, I can handle it (in so many words), I felt like I was the one who got kicked out of the nest.

Jonah had none of these Seven Highly Successful Two-Wheel Habits. In fact, from the beginning, he was determined to pedal in this new stage of life on his own terms.

“Don’t be afraid,” I said, packing her ladybug helmet. “It’s okay. You can fall, but-“

“I’m not” scared Papa. I’m ready,” he said, as the key slipped off the lug nut and gashed the pad of my thumb. I put the blood in my mouth, and laughed at Jonah’s vanity. We’ll see, I thought, looking at myself , at age five no less, splashed on the sidewalk, tangled in my bike, picking up gravel from the palm of my hands.

Well, the Wright brothers speech was packed for another day, because it was straight A for Jonah. After a year and a half of spinning his training wheels along the dam of False Creek, he was ready.

I wish I could say the same about his father. Before I could even focus on my deep breathing and positive visualizations, Jonah climbed into the saddle, as confident as the wind blowing off English Bay.

“Wait a minute Champ” I said, grabbing the seat. “Things are going to be a little shaky. We’re balancing—”

“Leave the pope,”

“Jona, it’s not as easy as—”

“Let go!”

So, I quit. But I kept to my expectations. I fully anticipated step 5. I reached for the bandages when I should have taken the video camera.

Jonah hammered on the top pedal as James Dean hit the gas Rebel Without a Cause. He left. Here there was no chip from the inept block. Of course, he slipped, he wobbled, but, unlike his old man, he did not fall. He was not afraid, nor sweaty, but very proud. He orchestrated a smooth turn through a bank of flowers and pedaled back to me with a smile as wide as his handlebars. It was then that I realized I still had a role to play.

I raised my arms and I pumped my fists.

“Great job Jonah!” I said, “You did it—and all by yourself.”

Jonah shines. I couldn’t stop laughing. He bounced in his saddle like a jockey riding Sea Biscuit in the home stretch. After the necessary victory passes down the path (I trail behind, announcing to all passers-by, “He’s my son – try first”), I invite Jonah to celebrate.

“Cake!” he said.

“Sounds good,” I said.

“With whipped cream.”

“Sure, why not,” I laughed, as I packed the training wheels into a Safeway bag. It will be a while, if ever, until the next cyclist in training needs my help. But I’ll be ready this time – ready for anything.

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