Sand in the Gears

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Straight to danger

March 3rd, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life

Five year-old Isaac decided that he wanted to ride his bike without the training wheels. “They slow me down,” he explained. If you knew this boy, you would understand why I was reluctant to give him more speed. But there he stood with Eli, who volunteered to “learn him how to ride.” If you had seen Eli teaching himself, at age four, how to ride a bike, you would understand my further reluctance; Eli was relentless in spite of two bloodied knees and who knows how many spills.

But I acquiesced, thinking I could just point the boy toward an open field. We have twenty acres, after all. So long as he’s falling down in the dirt, how much danger can there be? So I took off the training wheels. Isaac eagerly hopped on. I pointed him out of the barn and toward the grass, and gave him a good push.

Away he went. Not into the long field to the right of our house. Not into the grassy fenced area beside our barn. Not even onto the basketball court on the other side of the house. Nope, he went straight up the driveway. Peddling, wobbling, peddling, wobbling, up the graveled drive. Right at my truck. Twenty acres of property, and in his first twenty seconds of freestyle biking, the boy hits my truck.

He tried to sideskirt it, whipping around the back bumper and disappearing from my view. Then I heard the whump of little-boy body and scratchy bicycle metal hitting the side. At moments like this, you try to at least pretend like you are more concerned for the child than for your truck. I waited for the wail. There was none. He darted back around the corner, on his feet now, and waved both his hands, vaudeville style. “I’m okay!”

The truck was okay too. This is how it is with them. You bundle them up and put helmets on them and push them toward where it’s safe, and instead they go straight to danger. I hope I’ll always see him standing by my truck, waving his hands, telling me he’s okay, knowing that I was waiting to see him, knowing how I love him.