Elijah is a full-fledged bicyclist now. He can’t even remember a time when he used training wheels. I, on the other hand, remember it like it was a week and a half ago. Because it was.
There was a crucial moment in his bike learning when it just wasn’t going well. He’d get easily tired and tired equals falling. And falling equals crying.
I had to be careful in these moments not to ruin biking for him. Partly because I wanted him to learn valuable lessons about trying and not letting stuff get you down. But mostly because I feel like I’m two weeks away from going on a big bike ride with him to the ice cream store, which will be the greatest moment in either of our lives.
On one such crash, Elijah began furiously kicking his bike and hitting it with his helmet.
He shouted, “This is the worst bike! It’s a broken bike! You (meaning me) broke it when you took the training wheels off!”
I knelt down and said, “Hey. First off, it’s a poor musician who blames his bicycle.”
Eli stared at me and I said, “Never mind. But do you know there are lots and lots of kids in the world who don’t have a bike? And they’ll never, ever get a bike in their whole lives.”
Luca who was lurking nearby said, “I don’t have a bike.”
Ignoring the peanut gallery I continued, “So I understand why you’re mad. But don’t be mad at your bike. In fact, I want you to apologize to your bike.”
Elijah said he was sorry to his inanimate object and went home to sulk.
A few days later after the boys were asleep, I went downstairs to prep my bike for the season. The next day looked like the perfect Chicago day. 70 degrees and sunny. No wind.
I pumped my tires and heard the telltale hiss of a ruptured inner tube. Not having a replacement, I began to furiously hit my bike with the pump in rage.
Then I cursed the inventors of irony.