Project Optimism: The Bike

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous – warm and sunny the whole way through. When we read the weather forecast we decided to go up to the in-laws’ on Sunday to grill and hang out outside. Brady’s been very into his bike lately, riding with his friends in the park, and we felt like it was time to take the training wheels off and their neighborhood would be the perfect place.

After eating our delicious burgers and hotdogs and corn on the cob, the husband and his dad got out the wrench and the wheels were off. The first attempts did not go so well. The husband and then his dad both tried taking Brady up the street, but it ended up with a lot of frustration, falling over, and yelling of “JUST PEDAL!”

We decided to take a break and eat dessert. Afterward, I joked to Brady that I was going to ride his bike. We took it up into the road and I made a very silly attempt to ride around the car which resulted in me, flat on my butt on the street, and Brady laughing hysterically. After that, he asked me if he could try again, just with me.

He got onto the bike and I held the back of the seat and ran along with him as he got going. He pedaled faster and faster and I told him to “go, go, go” and then I took my hand off the back of the seat and, like magic, he kept going. He realized I wasn’t holding on, pedaled just a bit more and then braked and fell into the street.

I ran over to him, filled, no bursting, with pride, joy, elation, amazement. He jumped up and screamed, “I did it! I did it! I knew I could do it! I knew from the beginning I could do it!” I grabbed him up into a giant hug and spun him around. As I set him down he was already picking up his bike again and getting back on, “let’s do it again,” he told me, beaming.

We went again and again and again. He took longer and longer rides and got better at stopping without falling down. We turned back down the street to see that everyone else had come up to watch. He struggled a bit, but never wanted to give up. He was determined to get better, even when his knees and palms had been scraped. He rode the last bit to where my husband was waiting for him smiling, and crashed into the neighbors car because he was so distracted by the audience. Even then he just laughed.

We stayed a little longer than we had planned so he could work on his new skill. By the end we were both out of breath and exhausted. In the car on the way home, I still couldn’t stop smiling. I thought to myself “holy shit, THIS is what it’s all for.” Moments like that, of pure, unadulterated bliss really and truly make it all worth it. I helped my son learn to ride a bike yesterday, and it felt amazing.

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