So there are countless milestones one mentally records when you’re raising children. Some arrive with a brouhaha and others sneak up on you like ninjas in socks. All are equally important. All bring with them warm fuzzy feelings of pride and joy. You know, those feelings that start in your chest and end up tumbling out of your eyes and onto your cheeks in salty applause.
Here is a short list…
The day they sat up for the first time and stayed there without a scattering of pillows to support them. The day the first tooth broke through the surface of very painful and red gums after enough drool was drooled to fill a basin. The day their very first word was uttered that actually sounded like a human word and not something chewbacca might have said. The day they attempted their very first crawl as their attention was fixed on something out of reach and the desire to possess it overcame their natural inclination to sit and, you know, drool. The day they took their first few unaccompanied steps with their arms raised above their heads like an orangutan traipsing through a jungle. The day they made their very first poop in a potty or toilet accompanied by thunderous applause from immediate and extended family all crowded into the bathroom in moral support. This, followed a year or so later by the first successful (read thorough) solo wipe. Yes, the solo wipe. This is a pivotal moment since it is the point at which your dealings with number one’s and two’s are limited once again to you and yours alone.
Then there’s the day your child rides a bicycle without training wheels for the very first time. For the big guy this was June 4th 2016. He’d been riding with training wheels on for quite some time and on this day, my wife commented that she could no longer hear the loud clatter of the plastic wheels as he zipped up and down our avenue. Ergo, he was already balancing. What followed next was a flurry of activity to secure a matching spanner and remove the castanets wheels from the bike. In short order we were ready.
Then there were a couple of simple instructions handed over to the grey helmet about sticking a foot out when the bike stopped moving and watching where he was going. The helmet bobbed up and down vigorously in acknowledgement and then suddenly he was off. The back of his seat was being held ever so gently while he found his balance and then just like that, he was surging ahead under his own steam, weaving all over the road in a slalom but staying upright. After one or two more assisted starts he was starting on his own and balancing as if he’d been born to it.
Stopping was a bit of a problem though. It was as if absolutely all of his wits were being used to pedal and steer and he could no longer spare anything for using the brakes. My son, ever the innovator, solved this problem by simply leaping off the bike mid pedal. By the end of the session he was stopping conventionally again though and the day ended on such a high note for him that he literally beamed until bedtime. The joy of the freedom of that first ride was with him as he drifted off to sleep that night (a brand new maroon Karate belt also hanging in his cupboard).
I imagine his dreams that night were filled with the inspirational music from chariots of fire. Very proud of you my boy.