Trailing clouds of glory she ridesNearly a week ago... last Thursday, to be specific... SuperWife suggested to me, upon her way out the door that fine day, that I might take Super Adorable Kid and Super Dependable Teen out in the back parking lot and attempt to instruct the younger of the pair in the mastery of her new two wheeler (the acquisition of which, and mutually agreed upon regulations surrounding its intermittent occupancy in our front hall, are all surrounded by histories of horrifying darkness and horrific despair, but in the end, we emerged triumphant over the Evil Bike Troll, and no more need be said).
Having commanded the young gallant garb herself in sweat pants and a sturdy shirt, against imminent accidental abrasions, and having armored her up fully in a complete set of Batman skateboard pads -- elbow, knee, and wrist-palm -- we three strode forth into the day!... I, myself, at least, quaking in my loafers as vivid visions of crashes and catastrophes danced like Doukhabours behind my addled pate... an imaginary collage of full sensory disaster comprised of equal parts wails of childish terror, the scraping of knees and the denting of chromium fenders, a long flaming skid of apocalyptic destruction with the theme song of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN trundling along sturdily, like the Little Engine That Could, in the background - doot doot doot doot doot doot doot doot -- "We can rebuild her. We have the technology."
My trepidations proved groundless, although not at once, no, not immediately -- the back parking lot was near instantly weighed and found wanting due to there being far, far too many cars strewn about it (cars parked in a parking lot! When small children require bike riding lessons! It is as if the Pharaohs have returned!), so we repaired to a nearby park, which was as perfectly suited for our topic activity as the back parking lot had been iniquitous and treacherous to consummation of same.
So, in the fashion imparted me by my own dear mum lo these many decades agone as she l'arned me to ride a two wheeler with her own two hands, I loaded my little blonde youngster up, grasped the back of her bike seat, and began trundling her merrily across the grass as she pedaled for her very life. Sneakily, as me mater had done before me, I let go of the back of the bike after a few steps and merely ran along; after about fifteen feet of The Baby self piloting staunchly all unbeknownst of her independence, I announced from her side "You've been on your own for the last five yards".
Of course, she instantly swooned to the side, as I myself had forty years ago in response to my own parent's identical duplicity (my child suffered far less for this particular deceit, as she was riding on grass, where I had been being tutored in this arcane art on a sidewalk in Montour Falls, and fell full on across a gravel driveway, collecting an assortment of bike related war wounds, some of whose marks still show on my hide to this very day, to say nothing of the deep fissures of distrust for all authority marring my psyche which shall never heal).
However, just as I had before her, realizing she could do it and in fact had done it once already, The Baby leapt to her feet, snatched up the bike again, and needing only a steadying boost from me, rode off once more, this time to circle the grassy area for a full twenty seconds or so before careening to the ground again.
Her elusive yet vital balance finally attained, the remainder of the session saw great leaps in confidence and control. The next night we returned to the park with SuperWife in tow, and she witnessed her youngest child's first full circuit of the round driveway surrounding the previously described grassy field. There remained after that only one more hurdle to be conquered -- The Dreaded Self Start. As a wee bairn I myself could not learn to start off on a bike without someone else steadying it for what seems, in retrospect, to be epochs, although it was probably only a few days. I do recall, though, that for some time I relied on kickstands and front stoop stairs to steady my wheeled mount for me while I climbed aboard and secured the pedals with my feet.
Such laggardly tardiness was not to be for SuperAdorable Kid, who, only two days after she had begun, diligently following the masterful advice of her wise Uncle Nate, managed to self start herself no less than three times successfully at the very same park.
There are moments in our days on this earth when we see and can even briefly touch the shimmering joy that dwells at the very center of life, and while I cannot adequately describe the feeling that took wing and flew within my body as I saw my youngest riding her two wheeler for the first time, and knew that her growing expertise was the result of the work of my hands and my heart... there are not words, and there are not words, and there are not words, but the words that there are that come closest are rapture, and bliss, and exultation, and exuberance, and jubilation.
And happiness. Complete, and perfect, and without limit or flaw.
It's one of those things I thought I'd never have. If you knew me when, you
understand why as misanthropic a reprobate as I most surely am long ago gave up any hope of ever experiencing these kind of moments in my own life.
But now, thanks to the infinitely generous nature of SuperWife, I have had the pleasure of teaching my child to ride her bike.
Look at her go.