Training Wheels
Overcoming fears – the both of us

“Daddy, if you hold my bike steady to let me pedal and start, I know I can do it now.”

I loved the confidence from Brandon, but it took some time to get to that point. We had been practicing for weeks – with me trying to teach him to ride his bike without the training wheels. At first, neither of us was all that sure about it, but for different reasons. 

Brandon’s new big boy bike had sat in the garage for a while just waiting for us to be ready. We would have started taking the training wheels off and practicing sooner, but Brandon broke his arm a few months back, so our plans were delayed.  

At this point in my life, I’ve realized that parenting for me is as much about overcoming my own fears as it is about helping my boys try to overcome theirs. Teaching Brandon to ride his bike on his own is the latest great example. I’m not sure who was more worried between the two of us.

My concerns about watching him ride without training wheels weren’t just about the fear of falling (which he did a few times). I was also worried about whether the fall would hurt his elbow that was finally healed. And I knew that, mentally for Brandon, this was something else for him to worry about. 

I tried not to laugh the first time he came out with knee and elbow pads so big he could barely move his arms to steer the bike or his legs to pedal. But I realized he was wearing them because he was worried. We talked about what scared him and he told me he didn’t want to do something that would put him back in a cast where he couldn’t do the other things he enjoys.

So we had to find a way for Brandon to slowly gain the confidence he needed to find his balance, go farther and feel more comfortable on 2 wheels. We started at the top of the driveway, with just a short distance to ride, and the goal of staying up. Over and over we started. Eventually there was less and less of me holding him steady and giving him a push, and more of just reminding him to pedal, brake and keep his eyes looking forward. Before I knew it, Brandon was counting the circular laps he was doing in the driveway. And each time, I would watch him increase his goal to do more than the try before. I could see with each lap the fear melt away and the smile grow bigger. He felt so good about overcoming his fear, and yes, the elbow and knee pads eventually came off. Even I started to feel more comfortable watching him too.

Moving from training wheels to 2 wheels took more than just one afternoon. But that’s more than ok, especially for Brandon. He’s not one to just jump into things. Knowing how Brandon overcomes big things, like learning to ride a bike after a broken elbow, and learning to let go, is all part of the ride for me I suppose. He’s still working on getting down the sidewalk to the stop sign, but I know the day will come when I’ll have a new set of fears about him being out in the neighborhood, while he’ll probably be confident about his newfound abilities.

I guess this is the next step of parenting, where you take the training wheels off and hope they have listened to all the things you taught them. Which is what makes this all so hard. I love seeing the smile after he achieves what he set his mind on. But I also know he’s one step closer to doing life on his own and not really needing me to guide him as much. I don’t know if I’m ready for all of this, but then again when I ask people whose children are older, it doesn’t sound like I ever will be. They just say I should enjoy the ride. So that’s what I plan to do.

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


November 2023
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