with Avi Spivack
Hi, I'm Avi, and I try to put the work and the dad together, with mild success. This is all about trying to give you a view from what it looks like on the dad-man's side of the world, and I hope you find my ruminations humorous because I try not to take myself too seriously.
I walked into my colleague’s office today and he showed me a video on his phone of his three-year-old son riding a two-wheeler all over their suburban street in remarkable glee, helmet strapped on tight, and WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS.
Did I mention that he’s three?
Turns out, my colleague attributes this early bike-riding success to the fact that for his second birthday they bought him some sort of German bike, made from wood (of course) that has no pedals. Using said bicycle, the child apparently learns to balance him/herself and by the time the child grows to the size and age of a real bike, it is a no-brainer.
Seems the Germans were right on.
Unfortunately, the parents of my daughter were not so smart: I had learned to ride a bike without the assistance of German engineering and I assumed that my daughter would be no different. We are now on our second bike (she outgrew the first) and we are working on 3+ years here, still afraid to fall, unable to steer, determined as ever (both she and I).
“Today’s the day,” I said to her when I picked her up from a sleepover at grandparents’.
“The day for what?” she wanted to know, of course.
“To ride your bike!” (too much pressure? probably.)
And yet, she achieved numerous spurts where I did not hold the back of her seat, triumphant moments, and moments which quickly ended with a sharp veer off of the path by the river, mama cheering us on all the way, as I sweat through my t-shirt the way a farm animal might (if farm animals wore clothing).
Sigh. One more loop.
The exercise over, 40 solid minutes and one snack later, we walked and pedaled back to the car, with me right behind the daredevil. She had one last spurt in her.
And of course, as these things go, her last spurt went right, and I watched in slo-mo, as the front wheel hit the curb of a building stoop at a blistering 1.85 mph, and down she went, her slender body slowly toppling down onto the pavement, the tears of pain and tiredness begin to stream down her beautiful face.
I pick her up and she takes mama’s hand. The sniffles slow. After 2 blocks, she is talking again, almost as if nothing has happened.
And I play it back in my head, realizing that I might have been able to catch her from falling all the way, but I did not–did I let her fall? I think I did. I think I wanted her to fall so she could know not to be afraid of falling off her bike, that this was nothing, that a barely bruised hip and a scraped knee are nothing compared to the big tumbles that certainly await her as she grows older…
Did I really let her fall to teach her a lesson? To be that dad that is terrified that his only daughter will grow up too “soft” and afraid to fall?
I’m not sure exactly why, but I do know that she learned how to fall.
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