Sunday, June 6, 2010
Tonight's Bike Ride: A Metaphor for Life
Baker learned to ride a two-wheeler almost 2 years ago. We briefly used training wheels until he got the hang of steering, then took them off and ran behind him as he pedaled. The first few times, I had to hold the bike for him. I'd let go and he'd stay upright, though wobbly, for a couple of seconds at a time. Next thing I knew, he could get himself started and go for longer distances. He'd cautiously go ahead, and then pedal right back to me. He moved up in bike sizes, but never went too far from me, until this year. Now, he zooms ahead to each intersection, then waits patiently for me to catch up. We constantly review the rules of the road and quiz him on bike safety. Tonight, as I walked the dog and he rode his bike, I told him he could go ahead to the end of the road. He took off, crested the hill and disappeared down it. As I saw him vanish, I had a moment of panic. What if a car is coming? What if he brakes too hard and falls? What if he doesn't stop at the intersection? What if? What if? What if?
Our children start as helpless babes and move on to teetering toddlers. We hold their hands and help them every step of the way. They are always at our side. They enter kindergarten. They're still in reach, but a bit more independent. Baker hasn't figuratively crested the hill yet, but I know those "What if?" questions will plague me when he finally does; heading off to college out of my site and my reach. I will worry about whether or not he'll remember all those lessons I've tried to teach him. The "rules" of life and guides to safe living. I'll worry that despite my lessons, unforeseen events will hurt him and I won't be there to help him back up. Of course, I can worry all I want. The fact that he will grow up, move on, and become the adult that he will be, will happen whether I worry or not. So all I can do is try to do the best I can now, hope he remembers what I say, and wait to see if he occasionally rides back to check in with me.