As I let go of the seat on my 5-year-old son Axel’s bike and saw his little legs pedaling, I knew from that day on, life would be different for him. He would experience freedom he had never felt before. He would have confidence both in mind and body. Letting go of that seat, I knew I was letting go of the toddler of yesterday, and welcoming in a confident big kid.
There’s just something about learning how to ride a bike that changes everything in a good way, and I remember the day it changed my life.
I was 4 years old, and my parents had inherited a little bike from a friend. It was peach-colored, with purple writing on it, and specks of rust to accentuate its heavy use — or misuse, rather.
What appealed to me most about that bike was that it had two wheels, and it was just my size.
I remember wanting so badly to know how to ride it. Riding a bike in my young mind represented freedom and speed, which are two things I inherently crave. And while I don't remember how I got there, I do remember standing straddled over the bike with one foot on the pedal and one on the curb, balancing. I would balance, pedal, balance, pedal, with the goal of pedaling farther each time.
At the time my mom ran an in-home daycare, and needed to stay inside. Even so, she would step out on the front porch from time to time, encouraging me, and I remember a neighbor doing the same. Those encouragements only fueled my desire to complete the task at hand. When I finally found myself pedaling freely without the aid of the curb, I remember something clicking in my mind and body. It was something I can only describe as confidence.
As a mother, I look forward to the time when my children reach the age of being able to ride a bike. I get excited to see the glow in their eyes when it finally clicks. I love watching them catch themselves when they fall, or work their way out of a bad turn. I beam when I see them pedal for long stretches at a time, as I know full well what they are feeling: freedom and speed. This is something I believe we all probably inherently crave.
There is really nothing quite like learning how to ride a bike, and I couldn’t be happier that Axel has now joined the ranks of this newfound world of awesome.