To my Biggest Small Son,
Last Thursday, you did it. Faced a fear head-on and conquered it. Chose to try, even if it meant failing, instead of balking. You stepped out, and you were ready....
...you learned to ride a two-wheeler.
To some, that may seem like a child-hood no-brainer, a right of passage for a six year old. No big deal. some kids do it earlier; some later. And there's no denying it IS a right of passage. But for you, my highly-imaginative, I'll-do-it-on-my-own-time son, it's been more than that. It's been a definite process. You see, you've loved your red and black Lightening McQueen bike since your Grammy and Grandaddy took you to pick it our for your 5th birthday. No problems with the training wheels on; you couldn't WAIT to ride! But taking the trainers off...well.
Here's where your beautifully active imagination (and, perhaps, a few too many reads of your Daddy's old Calvin and Hobbes comic books) got in the way. You were certain that the minute those training wheels were off and the adult nearby let go, you'd crash and break every bone in your body. Or, possibly, that your bike would eat you. So, you refused to try. We had a few go-rounds with the wheels off and the "c'mon, just TRY IT!" from your dad and I, until we had (another) mini-revelation and realized that this is just.how.you.are. You do things in your own way, on your own time, and you always have- whether it's potty training yourself at 18 months or learning to ride a two-wheeler at 6 1/2. So, we backed off and just tried to make bike riding fun. Which it is. We had races and played and took Grandaddy's suggestion about setting the training wheels a bit higher off the ground to start the idea of balance, which helped. Then, a few weeks ago, I remembered your Grammy's suggestion about removing the training wheels and pedals to basically make it a balance bike. I figured it was worth a shot; and within the first day I could see you becoming more comfortable with balancing, racing your bike, feet up, down the driveway.
Then came Thursday, July 10th, 2014. I knew you were ready. I think you knew, too, but when I suggested putting the pedals back on you still acted a bit unsure. I could see you were nervous, and asked you to try it with me holding on, just once-if you weren't comfortable, we'd take the pedals back off again. No pressure.
But, really, I was pretty sure I wouldn't need to.
And sure enough, 10 seconds into your first ride, I let go and jogged alongside you----
and you were off. That was it. All it took, just one try--and you did it! I shouted and cheered, you laughed, so proud! Both of us, you and I-so proud of what you'd accomplished, of the way you'd swallowed hard and climbed on and did it. The next ride, I took a video per request and as soon as it ended, you gave a huge thumbs up and shouted, "Send it to Daddy!"
Which of course I did. You made his day, buddy. A morning full of testing; he said he's walked out discouraged and then to get that video-the sunshine flooded into his day. He was so proud of you, too!
Because we knew-your daddy and I-that it wasn't just about learning to ride a bike. It was about learning that you can do it. And, perhaps even more importantly, that if you can't do it you sometimes just have to keep trying, and backing up and taking baby steps, until finally, finally, FINALLY you CAN do it--and then the whole world opens up to you. And that's good, too, because we know that "(trials) produce perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:5, my paraphrase) Perseverance, my Small Son...Character, Hope...this is what we continually pray for and parent you towards. This is a huge part of what you need to be a man. Especially a man after God's own Heart.
Perhaps the coolest thing about you learning to ride your bike last week? Just the joy of seeing your self-confidence sky rocket. The next day, we went to a cool pool here in town with some good friends. They had big-kid water slides and a diving well with high- and low-dives; and this summer you are just exactly the right height to go on them. But you were the only kiddo in our group who was tall enough, which meant you'd be on your own, mostly. No sweat to you...you asked if you could go on the big slides, I said yes, and off you went on your own. Bam. Conquered it. No sweat. And THEN, after 10 or so slides down the "fast slide" and a little playtime with your friends, you asked if you could go to the diving well at the other end of the pool. Again, I said yes; but this time I did walk over with you. Honestly, I wasn't sure how you'd do if you decided to go up the high dive-actually, I didn't think you'd even want to do the high dive because you're a bit nervous about heights in general. But after one jump off the low dive (piece of cake-we have a small diving board, so you're pretty used to that) you set your sights on the high dive.
I was nervous for you, my son. Not sure if you'd get to the top and freeze, or not. Thinking that you looked so small standing with all the tweens and teens, even while wondering how on earth you'd gotten so big so quickly. And then it was your turn...and as I waited to the side I told you not to look down, to just climb up and look out and walk straight off...and you climbed up and walked out...and looked straight down. Now I could see you getting a bit afraid; it was awfully high. You started to walk backwards and I though for sure you'd climb back down the ladder, but I didn't say anything; sometimes we're just plain not ready for the high dive and Iwanted you to make your own choice. Then-you stopped again. And walked forward again. And crouched waaaaay down....and jumped. I grinned and- honestly, my Small Son-almost cried. Just like that-you decided to be brave, and try, and you did it.
I think you went off that high dive 5 or 6 more times that day, just to prove to yourself you could do it. I loved watching you, seeing you become even braver, although you were always cautious. Watching you decide on the last jump to swim all the way to the bottom of the 13-foot diving well and touch the bottom before rocketing up, gasping out, "I touched the bottom!!", proud of yourself. Your daddy laughed, surprised and thrilled with your bravery, when I told him the story that night. He went off the high dive?!? That's fantastic!!
My Pax-boy, don't ever forget the small steps of bravery. Don't ever trivialize the times you depend on God and grab hold of who He is making you to be and just jump. It's the little things that add up to the big things. Character is built in the mundane. And every Warrior fights with a stick, long before he learns to hold a sword.
Perseverance produces Character, and character, Hope...
and Hope does not disappoint.