I couldn't wait for the day that my son was old enough to try riding his bike without training wheels. To me, it seemed like one of those "father-son" moments that's imperative to our relationship.
One day, I went to pick him up from daycare, and there he was... riding a bike around the playground - without training wheels. Shocked, I asked his teacher, "When did he learn to do that?" She replied, "Oh! He's been doing that for a couple months now!"
I was devastated. Not only did I miss out on that moment, I also felt like a horrible father for not knowing that he was ready for it. At that moment, I pledged to myself that I wouldn't let that happen again with my daughter.
A couple weeks ago, we all went camping at Farragut State Park... the perfect place to try such a thing. As I watched her cruise up and down the road with her training wheels, I figured she probably wasn't ready. I reluctantly asked her if she wanted to try it, and she excitedly said yes. I wrenched those suckers off, and we were ready to go.
I immediately realized why the bike-riding ritual was so important to me; it's representative of a child's entire life.
I wanted so badly for her to grow up (just a little), but knew I was going to miss seeing my little girl with her training wheels. We started off slow, and made a few passes while I held onto her seat. I could feel her leaning, and sensed that she wasn't ready. At one point, as I will do throughout our lives, I realized what I had to do.
I let go.
And was prepared for her to crash and burn.
When she realized I wasn't there to stop her leaning, she righted herself. Next thing you know, she was riding along... all by herself. I ran alongside, wanting so badly to grab her and make sure she was safe... but I kept a distance, hoping I was close enough to scoop her up if she crashed. She never did. I was so incredibly proud of her...
And at the same time, sad.
I know I will have many such moments with both of my kids, for years to come. All I can do is hope that I will know when they are ready, but most importantly...
Know that sometimes, the best thing you can do for your kids... is to let go. :)