“Remember this feeling,” I encouraged my 6-year-old.
His baby blue eyes looked up through long eyelashes from under his red bicycle helmet. I reminded him: “Just two days ago you told me you couldn’t ride your bike without training wheels, remember?”
“Yes,” he said, smiling over his shoulder, preparing to zoom down the driveway on two wheels. The summer dusk was hot and sticky as I sat porch-side with my husband in twin rocking chairs watching our first-born.
The memory of a 3-week-ago “wipe out” has kept him from getting back on his bike lately. What if I fall again? He asked me. Well, maybe you will, I said. Sometimes you have to fall a bit to learn how to ride on your own. But I’ll be there to help you and soon, you’ll hardly ever fall at all.
Two days ago, he was ready.
He got back on and I watched while the scene turned slow motion (pretending I wasn’t watching, of course, ho hum, I’m just watering the plants, la di da) And then, it began: He’s on the bike, he’s down the driveway, he taps the brake, he doesn’t fall, he’s doing it…! “Look at me, Mom! I can do it!”
Two days later, he laps the driveway as if he were born on a bike.
“Remember this feeling,” I encouraged. “There will be a lot of times in life when you will think you can’t do something. So remember how it feels to not give up!”
“We can do more than we think we can?” he asked (already knowing the answer).
“We sure can, buddy,” my husband answered.
I watched him as he pedaled off, proud of him for learning how to ride a bike — but more so for believing he could.
For those small successes as children build up within us and become a part of who we are. That confidence that starts with finding balance on two wheels helps build an inner strength. That encouraging voice from someone we love reminds us: I can do this. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I can do more than I think I can.
Remember that feeling, my son. Carry it with you. And when you think that perhaps you cannot, let it come over you like the wind in your face as you fly down a hill on two wheels.
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”