Do you remember learning to ride a bike?
I remember the day vividly. It’s one of the more defining memories of my childhood, one I’ve been thinking about a lot these days. I’m sure my dad and twin brother have different accounts of what actually happened, but since neither of them blog, allow me to tell you the true story.
I was six. We were vacationing in Montana and it was a gorgeous summer day. My brother had already mastered riding his bike (a mere day and a half before, but of course he made it seem like he was practically the bicycle’s inventor). I was determined that today was my day. My bike was shiny and red. It deserved to soar past my gloating brother.
My dad is calm to the core. Even at my most reckless, I have always been able to rely on his steady, factual, collected demeanor to guide me. He assured me that he would hold the back of my bike seat and not let go.
With the steady weight of his hands on the seat, keeping my balance, I peddled. One leg winding around, then the other. I saw my brother in the periphery, eyes widened, watching me. I must have been having so much fun watching Montana’s landscape inch past me that I didn’t notice my dad had let go at first. But then all of a sudden it hit me: The steady guide of my dad’s hands weren’t there anymore. Instead of being excited and reacting like a normal person, I whipped my head backwards, saw my dad shrinking in the distance, screamed bloody murder, and fell.
My brother’s mirthless laughter echoed around me. I threw my bike off the path, and with eyes narrowed to slits announced to my dad that I would not be riding bikes ever ever again.
As a parent, I’m sure my dad had to learn how to let go. But at the same time, whether six or 26, it’s just as hard to learn how to be let go.
Fourth year externships are a constant reminder of my bicycling saga.